Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Oral radiology faculty develop iPhone, iPad app

screen568x568Augusta, Ga. – Dental students sometimes struggle to make sense of panoramic radiographs, a common x-ray used by dentists to survey the complex anatomy of the mouth. Now there’s an app for that.

Two professors in the Georgia Regents University College of Dental Medicine have developed the Dental Panoramic Radiology app – available on iPhone and iPad – to teach panoramic anatomy and imaging techniques.

Dr. Sajitha Kalathingal, Director of Radiology in the Department of Oral Health & Diagnostic Sciences, and Dr. Allison K. Buchanan, Assistant Professor in the Department of Oral Health & Diagnostic Sciences, designed the app an as an interactive study tool for students and a convenient reference guide for dental professionals.

“Panoramic radiography is a tool that dentists use every day in their clinical practice. The app was developed with dental students in mind, but it’s also for dental professionals,” Kalathingal said. “Because of the complexity of the anatomy, we thought a user-friendly app would be appealing. You can carry it around in your pocket on a mobile device.”

The app allows users to toggle between two-dimensional x-ray images of the skull and three-dimensional images of the anatomy.

“Whether you’re looking at normal or abnormal anatomy, making sense of it on a panoramic radiograph can be a little bit challenging,” Kalathingal said. “People are three-dimensional. But when you flatten the anatomy out onto a panoramic image, some structures appear distorted or even duplicated. Being able to switch from a 2D picture to a 3D picture helps students visualize and memorize why anatomy displays the way it does in panoramic images.”

The app labels and describes anatomical landmarks within the maxilla, mandible, and surrounding structures of the jaw. It also includes a description of the principles of panoramic imaging.

“We built in features to help the user better understand the anatomy. You can turn the highlight feature on and off and zoom in and out,” Buchanan said. “We went out of our way to make it user-friendly. We wanted it to be a tool people would actually use.”

Kalathingal, an Associate Professor in the GRU College of Dental Medicine, earned her Bachelor of Dental Surgery degree in India and Masters in Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a member of the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology and a Diplomate of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology.

Buchanan received her dental degree from the GRU College of Dental Medicine, and completed her residency training in Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, where she also received her Master of Science degree. She is a Diplomate of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology.

Dental Panoramic Radiology retails for 99 cents. Download the app at the Apple iTunes Store.