Purpose: To compare reproducibility of marginal bone measurements in conventional film and digitised radiographs and to assess whether variations in reproducibility occurred in measurements taken in a longitudinal, epidemiological survey.
Materials and Methods: Triplicate measurements of the marginal bone level and of remaining bone were obtained from film and digitised full-mouth radiographic surveys from 20 individuals who were examined three times at five-year intervals in a longitudinal study design. The digitalisation of the films was conducted by scanning the film with a flatbed scanner. The standard deviation (SD) of the triplicate measurements served as the statistic for reproducibility. The time spent for recording one radiographic survey, which consisted of 14 periapicals and 2 bitewings, was documented.
Results: Statistically significant differences existed in the reproducibility of marginal bone level measurements obtained at the first examination and the two subsequent examinations both for film and digitised radiographs (P < 0.05). The difference in marginal bone level measurements (film vs digitised) was 0.16 mm (SD = 0.45 mm). Similarly, the overall difference in measurements of the remaining bone was 0.12 mm (SD = 0.61 mm). Recording of a digitised survey lasted on average 5 min (SD = 1.5 min), while the recording of a film survey lasted on average 14 min (SD = 1 min).
Conclusions: Digitising film is an acceptable method for the purpose of assessing the marginal bone level and will save time in longitudinal, epidemiological studies.
Keywords: conventional, digitised, marginal bone level, radiographs