|Year : 2016 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 1-2
Airway assessment using cone-beam computed tomography imaging
Muralidhar Mupparapu1, David Matthew Graham2
1 Professor of Oral Medicine, Director, Division of Oral & Maxillofacial Radiology, University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
2 Fellow in Oral & Maxillofacial Radiology, University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
|Date of Web Publication||6-May-2016|
Professor of Oral Medicine, Director, Division of Oral & Maxillofacial Radiology, University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Mupparapu M, Graham DM. Airway assessment using cone-beam computed tomography imaging. J Orofac Sci 2016;8:1-2
|How to cite this URL:|
Mupparapu M, Graham DM. Airway assessment using cone-beam computed tomography imaging. J Orofac Sci [serial online] 2016 [cited 2020 Jul 4];8:1-2. Available from: http://www.jofs.in/text.asp?2016/8/1/1/181913
As technological advances and economics of scale make powerful diagnostic techniques more available to the average practitioner, dentists must develop a greater breadth of knowledge using these technologies and become adept at interpreting the results. Nowhere is this more evident than with cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT), wherein the addition of an extra dimension drastically increases the diagnostic yield and potential to screen for any additional incidental findings. Given that incidental airway abnormalities were detected on CBCT scans in 21-52% of the patients in prior studies, ,, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) diagnosis has been thrust into the spotlight and has become a new standard in the head and neck assessment. Once suspected of OSA, these patients can be referred appropriately for a sleep study to assess the severity of the condition and its management.
OSA is a sleep disorder characterized by disturbed or disordered breathing due to the intermittent collapse of the airway when the tongue and pharyngeal muscles relax during sleep.  According to one study,  at least 75% of OSA cases go undiagnosed, and people with the untreated condition are 4 times more likely to die than those without. According to another study, 2-4% of the middle-aged US population suffer from OSA and its prevalence is likely to increase as the age advances. 
There is a continuing need for development of a standard protocol for evaluating an airway volume. It becomes a part of one's diagnostic algorithm to evaluate the airway since it is routinely captured within a CBCT volume of the head and neck despite the reason for which it was captured. Although the protocols of CBCT capture have been standardized, the airway analysis is still not a part of routine evaluation. One of the factors in the acquisition of CBCT volumes for assessment of the airway is that volumes are acquired in upright positions rather than the typical supine position traditionally used in multidetector CT. This can contribute to a reduction in airway volumes up to 76%, and the effect of patient positioning on the diagnostic assessment of airway volume is still being investigated. ,
To acquire and assess the airway volume pre- and post-operatively, one should have reliable landmarks for the measurement. Alsufyani et al.  explored this issue and questioned the validity of existing measures. There remains a great opportunity for research in this field.
Practitioners who are more likely to use large volume CBCT as a tool in their diagnostic armamentarium should be aware of the airway analysis and the consequences of an undiagnosed OSA. This condition has been associated with a myriad of health issues namely hypertension, arrhythmias, refractory hypertension, heart failure, impaired cognition, and poorly controlled mood disorders to name a few.
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