Computed Radiography vs. Digital Radiography: Which Is Right for Your Practice?

The answer isn’t necessarily one or the other. It might be a combination of the two.

If you’ve decided to transition away from film, it’s important to look at all of the computed radiography and direct radiography options available in order to consider the pros and cons of each. It’s an important decision—you want it to be an informed one.


Computed Radiography

Digital Radiography


·   Not as high as digital radiography

·   Considered the best image quality and comparable to high-speed film in many cases, improving your diagnostic accuracy

Speed of Acquisition

·   Faster than film, slower than digital, impacting workflow for inter-operative imaging and new patient /recall exams

·   Viewable in seconds, maximizing efficiency and productivity


·   Variable, because plates are consumed over time

·   Easily damaged

·   No additional expense after initial purchase, other than warranty costs and disposable sheaths (because sensors are reusable and durable)

Similarity to Film

·   Film-like workflow, reducing training

·   Entirely different workflow, although user friendly, making training necessary

Quantity Needed for a Practice

·   One scanner; several plates, which can be used by more than one user at a time and later scanned

·   Several sensors of various sizes, depending on size of the practice and number of users

Size Options

·   Available in more sizes than DR

·   Available in sizes 0, 1 and 2

Patient Comfort

·   Multi-size options

·   Due to flexibility and thinness, considered more comfortable for small children and patients with anatomic limitations and/or strong gag reflexes


·   More comfortable than their predecessors (thanks to contoured design), but still may be intolerable for patients with anatomic limitations and/or strong gag reflexes


As you can see from the table above, both computed radiography and digital radiography have unique benefits. To accommodate the needs of all of your patients, however, adopting both solutions may be the way to go for your practice. Multi-specialty practices may especially benefit from a hybrid solution, as digital radiography can be used for inter-operative procedures—like endo or implant surgery—while phosphor plates can be used for larger format needs, like size 3 bitewings and size 4 occlusal imaging.

How did you decide whether computed radiography or digital radiography was right for your practice?

Edward Shellard, D.M.D. Contributor