INTRODUCTION : The evaluation of alveolar bone healing
may have a role in dental implantology, in prosthodontics
in the post-extraction phase and in monitoring fracture repair.
There are several radiological techniques described to
evaluate alveolar bone regeneration. However, most are expensive
and time consuming.
OBJECTIVES : To develop and evaluate a radiological method
utilising readily available equipment to measure alveolar
MATERIALS AND METHODS : An apparatus was designed to
enable the acquisition of standardized x-ray images, consisting
of a disposable impression tray, digital positioning
system, aluminum step wedge, digital x-ray sensor, Rinn apparatus
and laboratory putty. Bone biopsies were collected
from each oral quadrant in each of five Chacma baboons
(Papio ursinus). Accurately standardised x-ray images of the
biopsy sites were taken pre-operatively, directly post-operatively
and again after three and six week intervals. These
images were analysed using a graded histogram provided in
a computer software program. RESULTS : The average gray-scale value on the histogram of
the selected biopsy area was determined on the series of
standardised images. The average values for the three biopsied
sites per quadrant were expressed as percentages of
pre-operative density. The results indicated a mean increase
of 6.3% ( ± 1.4%) (mean ± 1 SEM) in bone density after three
weeks and 12.6% ( ± 1.7%) six weeks post-operatively.
CONCLUSION : A standardised radiological examination
method was developed which, together with a computerised evaluation technique, could be applied to accurately
determine relative bone density. This method was shown to
provide comparative bone density values during the regeneration
process of alveolar bone over a six week period.