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Imaging Sci Dent. 2012 Sep;42(3):121-127. English. Original Article.
Jung YH , Nah KS , Cho BH .
Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, College of Dentistry, Pusan National University, Yangsan, Korea.

PURPOSE: This study evaluated the association between cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) and panoramic radiographs in the assessment of a superimposed relationship between the mandibular canal and impacted third molars. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The study samples consisted of 175 impacted third molars from 131 patients who showed a superimposed relationship between the mandibular canal and third molars on panoramic radiographs and were referred for the examination of the mandibular canal with CBCT. Panoramic images were evaluated for the darkening of the root and the interruption of the mandibular canal wall. CBCT images were used to assess the buccolingual position of the mandibular canal relative to the third molar, the proximity of the roots to the canal, and lingual cortical bone loss. The association of the panoramic and CBCT findings was examined using a Chi-square test and Fisher's exact test. RESULTS: Panoramic radiographic signs were statistically associated with CBCT findings (P<0.01). In cases of darkening roots, lingual cortical bone loss or buccally positioned canals were more frequent. In cases in which the mandibular canal wall was interrupted on panoramic radiographs, contact or lingually positioned canals were more frequent. CONCLUSION: The results of this study suggest that contact between the mandibular third molar and canal and a lingually positioned canal could be more frequently observed in cases of the interruption of the white line of the mandibular canal and that there could be more lingual cortical loss in cases of darkening roots.

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