Why Bring CBCT In-House Rather than Send Patients to an Imaging Center

By Dr. Nestor Cohenca

At this point, cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) is recognized as an important diagnostic technology by general practitioners and specialists. While sending patients to an imaging center is one option for obtaining desired scans, I cannot stress enough the importance of having a 3D imaging unit available onsite. An in-house CBCT system not only benefits your patients, but your practice as well.

Common Objections to In-Office CBCT Imaging

Ask any specialist why they would send a patient to a third party for imaging, and inevitably, the answers involve cost and space. As technology evolves, however, these reasons are becoming less of a problem.

Price: When they were first introduced, CBCT units were astronomically priced—today, great units can be found for under $100,000, with varying fields of view and configuration options depending up on your needs. In addition to the reduced cost of acquisition, taking scans in your practice allows you to keep that revenue rather than sending it out to an outside party.

Space: There are several units to fit the scope of the practice and available space. Current models are becoming more compact—not to mention there are many hybrids that blend both panoramic and 3D imaging.

Benefits of Onsite 3D Imaging

The advantages of having a CBCT system readily available within your practice fall into three categories: patient satisfaction, diagnosis, and treatment planning.

Patient Satisfaction

    • Patients don’t like going to multiple locations; they want to go to one office and get diagnosed on the spot.

    • Patients are impressed by seeing their anatomy in 3D, and they are much more willing to accept the diagnosis and proposed treatment plan when they can see and understand the problem with their own eyes.

    • Advanced technology, like CBCT, can be a powerful marketing tool for attracting and retaining patients.


    • When you can capture an image right away, you don’t have to wait 3-4 weeks to get the results back from the imaging center for a diagnosis

    • Acquiring the image in office and analyzing it yourself eliminates potential miscommunication with the imaging center. Sometimes radiologists or techs have a different interpretation of the CBCT scan than what you were looking for.


    • Taking a scan during the patient’s appointment (intraoperative) allows you to immediately modify treatment planning, and in turn, increase the rate of case acceptance.

    • It’s much easier to take an intraoperative scan to determine if treatment is progressing as you thought. If you had to rely on an imaging center for this information, it could significantly delay the treatment process.


At this point in the game, it is safe to say that CBCT imaging is not the future—it’s the present. By implementing 3D imaging into your office, you are better able to reap the benefits of CBCT immediately instead of waiting on an outside party.

About Dr. Nestor Cohenca
Dr. Cohenca serves as Professor of Endodontics and Pediatric Dentistry at the University of Washington and Seattle Chlidren’s Hospital. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Endodontics and was one of the pioneers in the use of CBCT and is considered one of the experts on this field.

Carestream Dental Blog Administrator Contributor