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About computed tomography

The term «tomography» or «computed tomography (CT)» means in its modern sense an X-ray computed tomography. This is the most correct designation of this study as all modern tomographic methods are implemented with the use of computer technology.

X-ray computed tomography (X-ray CT) is a method of studying human organs using X-rays. The method was developed in 1972 by British electrical engineer Godfrey Hounsfield and American physicist Allan Cormack who won the Nobel Prize for their invention in 1979. The method is based on measuring and complex computer processing of differencial of X-ray radiation attenuation caused by tissues with different density.

The first X-ray tomography units have been designed only for the study of the brain. However, the rapid development of computer technology has allowed to create tomography unit for the whole body.

Nowadays CT or X-ray CT is considered to be the leading standard method of diagnostics of great number of diseases of various human organs and systems.

Advantages of the method

  • method of layered image acquisition
  • high spatial resolution
  • short-term study
  • the ability of creation of three-dimensional models of organs and tissues
  • low radiation exposure (for maxillofacial imaging)

Development of X-ray detectors (in particular) has enabled the creation of the so-called spiral computed tomography (SCT) units and in 2001 — multispiral computed tomography (MSCT) units which has revolutionized the imaging method and has made this method extremely reliable and versatile for the early diagnostics and screening (pre-clinical detection) of various diseases. Such an expensive equipment is installed only in large medical institutions, the need of their use in dentistry is insignificant. Their use in this area is the same as it is figuratively described by the expression «use the sledge-hammer to crack a nut».

In 1999, dentistry as one of the most rapidly developing areas of medicine gave impetus to the development of highly specialized «dental» CT scanners based on orthopantomographs. Their «dental» specialty was determined primarily by the small field of view, another form of X-ray beam (cone beam) and fundamentally different X-ray detectors (flat panel). These technical features have been limiting the widespread use of dental CT scanners for a few years. However the progress has soon come to this field as well.

Cone-beam X-ray CT scanner (CBCT — Cone Beam Computed Tomography or CBVT — Cone Beam Volumetric Tomography) began to be applied for the entire maxillofacial region that legally allowed to call this method «maxillofacial imaging» and the apparatus — «maxillofacial tomography unit».

Three-dimensional maxillofacial imaging greatly enhances the diagnostic capabilities in dentistry, ENT and maxillofacial surgery.