16: Introduction to radiological interpretation

Introduction to radiological interpretation

Interpretation of radiographs can be regarded as an unravelling process – uncovering all the information contained within the black, white and grey radiographic images. The main objectives are:

To achieve these objectives and maximize the diagnostic yield, interpretation should be carried out under specified conditions, following ordered, systematic guidelines.

Unfortunately, interpretation is often limited to a cursory glance under totally inappropriate conditions. It is easy to fall victim to the problems and pitfalls produced by spot diagnosis and tunnel vision. This is in spite of knowing that in most cases radiographs are the main diagnostic aid.

This chapter provides an introductory approach to show dental care professionals how radiographs should be interpreted, specifying the viewing conditions required and suggesting systematic guidelines.

Essential requirements for interpretation

The essential requirements for interpreting dental radiographs can be summarized as follows:

Optimum viewing conditions

For film-captured images these include:

These ideal viewing conditions give the observer the best chance of perceiving all the detail contained within the radiographic image. With many simultaneous external stimuli, such as extraneous light and inadequate viewing conditions, the amount of information obtained from the radiograph is reduced. Radiographs should be viewed once they have dried as films still wet from processing may show some distortion of the image.

Digital images should be viewed on bright, high-resolution monitors in subdued lighting (see Fig. 16.2).

The nature and limitations of the radiographic images

The importance of understanding the nature of different types of radiographic images – film-captured or digital (depending on the type of image receptor used) – and their specific limitations was explained in Chapter 1. How the visual images are created by processing – chemical or computer – was explained in Chapter 3. Revision of both these chapters is recommended. To reiterate, the final image, whether captured on film or digitally, is ‘a two-dimensional picture of three-dimensional structures superimposed on one another and represented as a variety of black, white and grey shadows’ – a shadowgraph.

Jan 12, 2015 | Posted by in Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology | Comments Off on 16: Introduction to radiological interpretation
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