Digital Imaging

Advantages of Going Digital

1. Speed: Depending on the type of system that is used to digitize radiographs, x-ray images can appear on the computer screen instantaneously, or up to a few minutes later, resulting in a significant timesaving, when compared with conventional film processing

2. Image Manipulation: One of the biggest advantages of digital images is the ability to modify the image. In addition to using post-processing techniques to aid in diagnosis, the large dynamic range of digital systems means that diagnostically useful images can be produced, which might normally have been under or over exposed.

3. Quality: While one could argue that a well taken and processed analogue image cannot be beaten for quality, digital imaging produces more consistent quality and is far more reliable (because of the inconsistency and poor reliability of film processing).

4. Reduced radiation: Existing intra-oral radiography systems can be used for digital imaging, but at an exposure that is often 70-80% lower than that of traditional film x-rays. Dentists have a responsibility, under the conditions of their RPII licence, and under SI 478 of 2002, to ensure that the imaging process is optimised, and that all doses are As Low As Reasonably Achievable.

5. No chemicals: Over the long term, digital imaging saves money in chemical, film, processor maintenance, etc. It also avoids the problems associated with handling, storage, and disposal of chemicals, as well as the time and effort required to clean and maintain film processors.

6. Archiving & access to patient records: Previous patient images can be accessed almost instantaneously and the problems associated with film storage are avoided (i.e. space, degradation of images, lost films, etc.). As in many businesses, the digital office is increasing becoming the norm in dental practices, and digital imaging is a logical extension of this. Also, for large or multi-site practices, the benefits of tele-radiology allow images to be accessed from any surgery or site.