Evaluating Sleep Apnea Obstruction with 3D Cone Beam CT Scans

The gold standard for the diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is polysomnography (PSG) Sleep Study. Although PSG helps identify individuals who have OSA and help the management, it does not identify the site of obstruction or predict surgical outcome. Both CT Scans and MRIs are beginning to play a crucial role in the evaluation of patients before oral appliance therapy, and other non-surgical therapies. It is also playing a critical role as well with surgeries such as uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), reduction of tongue base, mandibular advancement, or geniohyoid muscle surgery.

Improvements in airway imaging technology provide the potential for an improved understanding of airway pathology and upper airway mechanics. ORA® is one of the few facilities in Chicago to offer the i-CAT 3-D digital CAT scan for Oral and Maxillofacial imaging. The i-CAT offers the most complete information (and 0.01mm accuracy) on the anatomy of a patient’s mouth, face, and jaw areas. Anatomy we once estimated is now completely visible. This leads to the most accurate diagnosis, treatment planning, minimally invasive procedures, and predictable outcomes for Oral and Maxillofacial procedures, an sleep apnea devices and treatment.

Patients love the i-CAT because it’s more convenient, less costly, and it uses a significantly lower radiation dose compared to traditional hospital-based CAT scan and dental x-ray units. Images produced by the i-CAT reveal medical problems much earlier, when they can’t be seen using conventional x–ray films or two-dimensional imaging equipment. Patients remain seated in an “open environment,” which increases their comfort and captures the natural orientation of anatomy. The digital data is transferred to a computer within one minute, and is displayed on an interactive, 3-D mapping tool that allows us to easily format and select desired regions for immediate viewing. We use the i-CAT with nearly all of our patients and make it available to other doctors that wish to capture the highest-quality images of their patients.

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