Cone Beam Imaging Facility

Click here to refer a patient (PDF)

Dental CBCT provides anatomical image data similar to medical CT, but at a much lower radiation dose to the patient than a medical scan. The 3-D image volume is made with one scan sweep around the patient utilizing a cone-shaped x-ray beam, resulting in several hundred dimensionally accurate images. The computer software reconstructs these images into multiplanar views at a 1:1 ratio.

This type of reconstruction allows for dimensionally accurate measurements, essential when planning implant placement or any other treatment requiring precise measurements. The resolution of the cone beam images is much less than that of intraoral film or standard digital imaging.  Therefore, a cone beam scan is not appropriate for the diagnosis of dental caries or other fine details that can be better seen with standard dental imaging methods. 

Scatter artifacts from metallic dental restorations can confound the detection of small dental changes in a cone beam volume. In addition, the patient receives much more radiation with a cone beam scan than with other standard dental imaging methods.

Cone beam volumetric image (CBVI) or cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) is a relatively new imaging technology developed for dental purposes that provides three-dimensional image data of the dental and craniofacial complex. CBCT provides a view of the anatomical volume in multiple planes and overcomes limitations imposed by traditional two-dimensional radiography.


There are many indications for cone beam imaging. Orthodontists use CBCT to develop anatomically and dimensionally accurate 3-D craniofacial records. In addition, evaluation of impacted mandibular third molars and other teeth, assessment of the location of the inferior alveolar canal prior to surgery, identification of root resorption, and evaluation of pathologic lesions are but a few of the current uses. When assessing the temporomandibular joints, the condyle-fossa position and the dentition can be clearly visualized in the same image field of view, thus verifying the anatomical relationship of these structures. The paranasal sinuses and other airway spaces may also be evaluated for obstruction, inflammatory conditions, or pathology. The 1:1 imaging ratio allows for precise measurements, which are essential for planning implant placement.

Scans at the IUSD Imaging Facility are taken on an appointment basis. The primary purpose of the facility is to improve the quality of care provided to patients at IUSD; however, referrals from clinicians in the practicing community are most welcome. All scans taken at IUSD are interpreted by one of the board-certified oral and maxillofacial radiologists on the faculty and a detailed interpretation report is generated for every patient scan.