Answer to Question #10785 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Medical and Dental Patient Issues — Dental

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:


What are the increased risks to the patient when a handheld x-ray machine is used for dental radiography?


There does not appear to be any increased risk with handheld x-ray machines used in dentistry. Handheld machines such as the NOMAD by Aribex have been reported to be as safe as conventional x-ray units when tested in clinical trials as well as in controlled experiments. The x-ray beam is limited to a 6 cm diameter rather than the allowed 7 cm diameter often encountered on the wall-mounted x-ray units. This helps to decrease the radiation dose to the patient by an estimated 25 percent over traditional wall-mounted dental x-ray units 1-3. The handheld units are often used with direct digital sensors, which help to further decrease the radiation to the patient. Preliminary data from an unpublished independent study that is currently being conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry appears to agree with the current literature.

Heidi Kohltfarber, DDS, MS

Goren A, Bonvento M, Biernacki J, Colosi D. Radiation exposure with the NOMADTM portable x-ray system. Dentomaxillofacial Radiology 37:109–112; 2008.

Hermsen KP, Jaeger SS, Jaeger MA. Radiation safety for the NOMAD™ portable x-ray system in a temporary morgue setting. Journal of Forensic Sciences 53:917–921; 2008.

Turner DC, Kloos DK, Morton R. Radiation safety characteristics of the NOMAD™ portable x-ray system. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21; 2004.

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