Ask Marty: Does digital radiography really allow for better diagnosis?

By Martin Jablow, DMD

May 4, 2009 -- Q: Does digital radiography really allow for better diagnosis?

A: In my opinion, one of the biggest benefits to digital radiography is the ability to better diagnose. The limits of a No. 2 film compared to an image on a large monitor are easily apparent once you have made the switch. The standard has always been our trusted No. 2 film, but the ability to manipulate the image to assist in diagnosis is where digital shines.

In fact, when you are evaluating imaging software, one consideration should be how easy is it to manipulate the image and thus enhance your diagnostic capabilities.

There are software packages that can do this automatically with the click of a button. I will show some examples of image manipulation to assist in diagnosing. Not all imaging digital radiography software packages have these easy-to-use filters, but they all can manipulate the images.

Here is an example of the Logicon Caries Detection software by Carestream Health/Kodak Dental Systems. The initial image gives the hint of caries on the mesial of No.13.

All images courtesy of Kodak and Cyber Medical Imaging.

The Logicon software analyzes the lesion.

Now further analyzing the radiograph shows caries on the distal of No.12.

Now look at the caries clinically.

A similar type of evaluation can be done with periodontal disease using XDR software by Cyber Nedical Imaging.

On the left below is the initial radiograph, and on the right is the radiograph after enhancing the image.

These are all things that are not possible with the use of standard x-ray film.

Martin Jablow, D.M.D., is a practicing dentist and a self-professed technophile who lectures and blogs on a variety of technologies used in dentistry ( If you have a technology question for Dr. Jablow, e-mail it to us at

Copyright © 2009


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