Incidental findings in a consecutive series of digital panoramic radiographs.

Imaging Sci Dent. 2020 Mar;50(1):53-64. doi: 10.5624/isd.2020.50.1.53. Epub 2020 Mar 17.



The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of incidental findings (IFs) on digital dental panoramic radiographs (DPRs) of asymptomatic patients attending a general dental practice.

Materials and Methods:

This was a retrospective study of 6,252 consecutive digital (photostimulatable phosphor) DPRs of patients who visited a Canadian general dental practice for a complete new patient examination. The IFs were grouped into dental-related anomalies, radiopacities and radiopacities in the jaws, changes in the shape of the condyles, and other findings in the jaws, such as tonsilloliths and mucosal antral pseudocysts. Their prevalence was determined.


Thirty-two percent of the DPRs showed at least 1 IF. The highest prevalence was found for dental-related anomalies (29% of all DPRs), of which impacted teeth were the most prevalent finding (24% of all DPRs), followed by idiopathic osteosclerosis (6% of all DPRs). A lower prevalence was noted for tonsilloliths (3%), and the prevalence of root tips, mucosal antral pseudocysts, and anomalies in condylar shape was approximately 1% each.


The observed prevalence of 32.1% for IFs of any type underscores the need for a dental practitioner to review the entire DPR when a patient presents for an initial dental examination (or check-up) or for dental hygiene. Only a single IF (a central giant cell granuloma) provoked alarm, as it was initially considered malignant. Similarly, impacted teeth and suspected cysts need careful evaluation upon discovery to determine how they may be optimally managed.

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