X-ray protection – but it’s not what you think… Dr Kunal Shah

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  Posted by: Dental Design      2nd June 2018







We all know that radiographs are crucial for accurate diagnostics and treatment planning in various areas of dentistry. We often talk about ‘radiation protection’, but it’s just as important to consider how much protection your X-ray reporting procedure affords you…

It’s crucial to establish what exactly a dentist is responsible for in order to ensure they are protected against potential problems in the future. There are three roles involved with the taking of a radiograph – the referrer, the operator and the practitioner. The referrer requests the CBCT scan, the operator actually acquires the image and the practitioner is responsible for justifying the need for a CBCT and reporting on it. One dentist could be all three or there could be multiple professionals involved.

The first two stages present few problems – for example, the dentist needs an X-ray in order to acquire the clinical information necessary to plan implant treatment accurately. Similarly, if they have the competence to physically use the CBCT equipment and take a scan, then they’ll face no problems as the operator.

However, a complication presents when the dentist is the practitioner, as they are responsible for justifying and reporting on the scan produced. As radiology is not necessarily a dentist’s speciality, it is very possible for things to be missed. The danger here is that most dentists will often only look at the specific area of concern in great detail, rather than studying the entire mouth. While this might not affect treatment at that time, the practitioner is responsible for reporting on everythingthat can be seen in the radiograph.

There is also the risk of missing any abnormalities that fall outside the remit of a dentist. For example, thrombosis or osteopenia / osteoporosis can be detected on a radiograph. These are completely medical conditions and a dentist would not be expected to diagnose them. However, if the dentist were responsible for reporting on an X-ray, they would be held accountable for identifying the symptoms, as well as any dental concerns.

Benefits of working with a specialist

Reporting by a specialist radiologist eliminates these risks. They will automatically look at everything presented on the image and deliver a full report on any detectable anomaly. They will also have training and experience within the general medical field, meaning they have the ability to identify and report on any issues beyond the expertise of a dentist. This provides the dentist with medico-legal protection should a problem arise with a patient in the future.

This was the motivation behind my getting involved with the PROPACS system from Pro Diagnostics UK. It provides detailed reports by specialist radiologists, which I have worked with the team on to ensure they are as systematic and clear as possible. I simply take the radiograph and send it securely to the experts for review. Another benefit of the system is that it aids compliance with GDPR – this is a huge issue for dentists right now so anything that helps compliance is more than welcome! Ultimately, it provides me with confidence that I will be protected against any issues that might arise in the future.

In addition, by working with an expert radiologist, I know that I am delivering the best possible service to all of my patients and this is what dentistry is all about


For more information please call 01480 862088 or email dawn@prodiagnostics.co.u


For any clinical advice or to send referrals for CT scans, contact LeoDental on

0208 2033155 or referral@leodental.co.uk,

or visit www.leodental.co.uk



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