Cone beam computed tomography (CT) is faster and safer than regular CT. It uses a cone-shaped x-ray beam that allows a smaller scanner, a smaller radiation dosage, and shorter time needed for scanning. Since cone beam CT scanners are small, they can fit easily into medical practices. Typical cone beam CT scans take less than a minute and use up to 100 times less radiation than a regular CT scanner.
CT in general offers many advantages as a medical imaging technique. It produces clearer images of multiple types of tissue including bone, soft tissue, muscle, and blood vessels. Physicians can use CT in diagnosis of cancers, planning and administering radiation treatments, and diagnosing musculoskeletal disorders.
Cone beam CT is primarily used in dental practices when ordinary x-rays are insufficient. If, for example, a patient had what appeared to be a lesion in the jaw show up on an x-ray, a cone beam CT scan can create a clear, accurate 3-D image with more clinical information to assist in diagnosis.
Advantages of Cone Beam CT
Some of the advantages of cone beam CT include:
• Lower radiation dose than traditional CT
• Better patient comfort due to open environment and quick scans
• Wheelchair accessibility
• Higher resolution with hard tissues than with regular multi-slice spiral CT (MSCT)
• Better artifact reduction compared with MSCT
Cone beam CT is not the best type of CT for soft tissue contrast, but it can be very valuable when medical imaging of hard contrast objects in the body are needed.
Cone Beam CT and Hard-Contrast Objects
While MSCT is preferable for soft-contrast objects, cone beam CT is better for medical imaging of hard contrast objects. Cone beam CT is now being used outside dental practices in several clinical specialties, including urology, neurology, otolaryngology, musculoskeletal imaging, cardiology, and abdominal angiography. It has been shown to be well-suited for visualizing hard contrast objects in the abdomen with low image levels while minimizing patient radiation dose. Contrast in medical imaging is critical, and refers to the difference in intensity of a lesion in an image compared to the intensity of adjacent tissues. The experienced radiologist knows which type of imaging technique offers the best combination of contrast, low radiation dose, and superior image quality.
Cone Beam CT in Head and Neck Reconstruction
Tumors of the head and neck can cause physically and emotionally devastating effects. Successful reconstruction of the head and neck through plastic surgery requires a team approach that typically includes an oncologist, ablative surgeon, and reconstructive surgeon, along with a comprehensive individual treatment plan. Three-dimensional medical imaging is a critical tool for planning head and neck reconstruction, and the development of cone beam CT technology has put this type of medical imaging into the hands of more reconstructive teams. The accuracy of cone beam CT scans used in head and neck reconstruction has been shown to be reliable and consistent, making the technology a promising tool in these intricate and extensive procedures.
Cone beam CT is only one type of CT used in a variety of medical imaging scenarios. Radiologists in body imaging subspecialties can now make use of this type of CT scanning to improve patient comfort, lower radiation dose, and create superior quality images of a variety of soft and hard tissues. Neuroradiology involved with advanced procedures like head and neck reconstruction can now make use of cone beam CT for reliable image quality in procedures that require extensive medical imaging.
At SteleRAD, our Board-certified owner-operator physicians bring over 40 years of experience to medical imaging in the South Florida region, and are committed to remaining at the forefront of technology that leads to better patient outcomes. With subspecialists in fields including body imaging, musculoskeletal radiology, neuroradiology, pediatric radiology, and other types of medical imaging, SteleRAD is available to hospitals, medical imaging centers, and practice groups throughout South Florida. To learn more, call 954-358-5250, or contact SteleRAD online.