Objective: To undertake a joint analysis of the influence of fracture width, dental thickness and distance of the fracture from the cortical bone on the radiographic diagnosis of vertical root fractures.
Keywords: diagnosis, endodontically treated teeth, radiograph, vertical root fracture
Methods: Thirty-six uniradicular bovine teeth were endodontically treated and distributed into three groups according to the remaining root dentine thickness: 1.2 mm, 1.5 mm and 1.8 mm. Each group comprised 12 teeth, six with vertical root fracture and six without. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) images of the fractured tooth groups were obtained and the fracture lines were measured. All specimens were inserted into bone defects created in bovine ribs, at different distances from the external cortical bone. Digital periapical radiographs were randomly evaluated by three blinded examiners (presence or absence of fractures).
Results: The specificity for periapical radiography was found to be 89% and the accuracy rate was 57.4%. The mixed-model regression using the generalised estimating equation (GEE) model showed that the width of the fracture line and the thickness of the dental remnant play an important role in radiographic detection of vertical root fractures. There is a lower chance of correct diagnosis with fracture line widths < 0.2 mm (odds ratio [OR] 0.294, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.103 to 0.836; P = 0.022) and tooth thicknesses < 1.2 mm (OR 0.342, 95% CI 0.157 to 0.747; P = 0.007).
Conclusion: Fracture line widths < 0.2 mm and smaller root thicknesses lead to a less accurate diagnosis of vertical root fractures on periapical radiographs.