The decision to add a cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) system to your practice is a significant one—and one that can have far-reaching implications. It is a sizable investment, so the concern for obtaining a return on that investment is often top of mind. The ability to accurately evaluate anatomy in 3D requires training, which is another point to consider. Logistics, such as how the system will physically fit into your office space or the impact it will have on your workflow, are additional factors that you should carefully examine.
There are definitely many considerations to take into account when making a decision like this. But for many practitioners, the choice was an easy one, because the advantages of introducing CBCT to their practice were—and still are—very compelling. Here are the main reasons why.
1. Improved diagnostic capabilities
The impact that CBCT has on your ability to diagnose should not be understated. In fact, some practitioners believe they can’t practice without it. CBCT imaging provides a level of anatomical detail that enables practitioners to detect clinical situations like infections, lesions and hidden anatomy. The information that CBCT reveals (when superimpositions are removed) sometimes results in practitioners changing their initial diagnoses, because what is not visible with 2D imaging is often blatantly obvious with 3D imaging.
With improved diagnostic capabilities, you can discontinue the practice of referring patients out for scans, which helps speed return on investment (ROI). You may decide to perform more procedures—or more complicated ones—yourself because the information revealed by CBCT imaging gives you the clinical confidence to do so, which also positively impacts ROI.
2. Patient education and case acceptance
CBCT imaging facilitates patients’ understanding of your treatment plans. Because patients can more easily visualize the area of interest in 3D than 2D, they are better informed about the diagnosis and feel more included in the diagnostic process. As a result, they are more likely to accept the treatment proposal. In addition, better education allays patient concerns, resulting in a more positive patient experience.
New technology is a great differentiator, and the addition of CBCT to your practice provides you with the perfect opportunity to promote your capabilities. When technology-savvy patients are looking for doctors who are on the cutting edge of their profession, they may choose you over the practitioner around the corner who hasn’t added CBCT to his/her practice. For specialists, this technology can attract more referrals, too.
4. Referral relationship
As a general practitioner, it’s important to me to refer my patients to specialists who have the most up-to-date technology and who can provide the level of care my patients have come to know and expect. On the other hand, as an implant specialist, I know that doctors refer their patients to my practice because I am able to clearly visualize implant treatment and placement.
In addition to increasing referrals, CBCT imaging enables you to more easily collaborate with referring doctors on your recommended treatment plans and final outcomes. Seeing is believing, and the ability to reference a CBCT image can greatly simplify what may otherwise seem like a very complex treatment plan. Referring doctors will likely feel more comfortable with your treatment choices and enjoy the ability to collaborate on treatment plan options through the virtual treatment plans in the 3D software.
CBCT can enhance your workflow by keeping patients within the practice for imaging—eliminating the extra step of sending them out for a 3D scan. When patients go from initial appointment to 3D imaging to treatment planning—all in one appointment—the time savings is enormous.
Not only that but, when chosen wisely, CBCT systems can streamline your workflow by working seamlessly with your imaging and practice management software. And, depending on the procedures performed in office, CBCT scans can also be merged with digital impressions from an intraoral scanner to improve implant planning, surgical guide fabrication and more.
If you’ve already incorporated CBCT into your practice, what are some additional benefits you have experienced as a result?