Routine CT head exams commonly do not report dental disease

A study published online March 2 in Academic Radiology suggests that dental disease is commonly overlooked in routine CT exams, despite having the option to identify the disease on a dictation template. 

"Routine head [CT] examinations often inadvertently include dental pathology which is often overlooked," wrote lead author Khaled Hammoud, MD, from the department of radiology at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. "The purpose of this study is to examine the prevalence of dental disease incidentally present and detected on head CT examination and to determine the effect of the institution of a dental disease field or macro in a standardized head CT dictation template on the rate of reporting dental disease."  

Hammoud and his colleagues randomly selected 100 head CT exams performed six months before and after the institution of a dental disease field in a standardized head CT template. Two neuroradiologists not included in the selection process then independently reviewed the all exams for the presence for dental disease.

The researchers found 33 percent of the CT exams included the level of the teeth. Of those cases, 41 percent were identified with the presence of dental disease, however only 11 percent of the initial reports explicitly mentioned dental disease, according to study results.

"Addition of a dental disease field in the dictation template resulted in no significant difference in reporting dental disease," the researchers concluded.