Why Do I Need Another X-Ray?
This is one of the most common questions I am asked when a new patient arrives in my office. Quite often patients will arrive with recent radiographs or x-rays from their referring office and want those x-rays to be used for their surgery. This articles will shed some light as to why your surgeon may require different images in addition to what the patient or clinician has provided.
There are a number of different types of radiographic modalities available for a surgeon. There are plain x-rays which are your standard 2-dimentional films that most patients are familiar with. They can take an image of the whole head, whole mouth or just a few teeth. These smaller areas area taken with intra-oral films and are common in a dental office. Next there are 3-dimensional x-rays like CT scans or Conebeam CT scans that provide information in 3-dimensions of the surgical site. You can have a CT scan or Conebeam CT of the entire head, just one area or even a quadrant of the mouth. CT scans are often used to assess the hard tissues of the body like bones and teeth. Finally there are MRI images, which are used to provide information about the soft tissues of the body. Each type of radiograph or x-ray is used for a specific purpose and one cannot be substituted for the other.
When your surgeon is planning your procedure a full understanding of all structures involved is very important. Often the surgery does not just involve the visible structures on the surface but many other vital structures that are not visible lying beneath the surface of the skin or tissues. These vital structures include blood vessels, nerves, saliva glands and lymph nodes just to name a few. If the location and size of such structures is not known the surgeon has a risk of damaging them during the surgery. Small x-rays alone can miss many important vital structures and are often insufficient to ensure the safely of the patient during surgery.
Your surgeon will decide what types of x-rays might be required for your surgery to be done in the safest and most risk free method. It could involve having additional images taken in their office or even at a hospital. Once all the x-rays are viewed a final plan can be formulated. Your surgeon wants to be sure to perform your surgery with the least risk and to the best of their ability. For more information on imaging options for the head and neck area check out this link.