'Non-standard' panoramic programmes and the unusual artefacts they produce

Key Points

  • Suggests non-standard artefacts are not widely discussed which may lead to practitioners becoming unsure about them when they arise.

  • Describes two clinical cases and the technical explanation for these artefacts.

  • Provides learning points to improve the readers' clinical practice.


Dental panoramic radiographs (DPTs) are commonly taken in dental practice in the UK with the number estimated to be 2.7 million per annum. They are used to diagnose caries, periodontal disease, trauma, pathology in the jaws, supernumerary teeth and for orthodontic assessment. Panoramic radiographs are not simple projections but involve a moving X-ray source and detector plate. Ideally only the objects in the focal trough are displayed. This is achieved with a tomographic movement and one or more centre(s) of rotation. One advantage of digital radiography is hardware and software changes to optimise the image. This has led to increasingly complex manufacturer specific digital panoramic programmes. Panoramic radiographs suffer from ghost artefacts which can limit the effectiveness and make interpretation difficult. Conversely 'conventional dental imaging' such as intraoral bitewings do not suffer the same problems. There are also now several 'non-standard' panoramic programmes which aim to optimise the image for different clinical scenarios. These include 'improved interproximality', 'improved orthogonality' and 'panoramic bitewing mode'.This technical report shows that these 'non-standard' panoramic programmes can produce potentially confusing ghost artefacts, of which the practitioner may not be aware.

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Figure 1: Ghost artefacts on panoramics.
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With thanks to E Whaites, M Payne and J Harvey for proof reading

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Correspondence to S. Harvey.

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Harvey, S., Ball, F., Brown, J. et al. 'Non-standard' panoramic programmes and the unusual artefacts they produce. Br Dent J 223, 248–252 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.bdj.2017.707

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