Introduction: Mandibular inferior cortical width manually measured on dental panoramic radiographs may be useful for identifying postmenopausal women with low skeletal bone mineral density (BMD). Automatic measurement of cortical width may enable us to identify a large number of postmenopausal women with suspected low skeletal BMD. The purposes of this study were to develop a computer-aided system for measuring mandibular cortical width on dental panoramic radiographs and clarify the diagnostic efficacy of this system. Methods: Panoramic radiographs of 100 postmenopausal women who had had BMD assessments of the lumbar spine and the femoral neck were used in this study. Experienced oral radiologist determined the position of the mental foramen on 100 digitized dental panoramic radiographs. After determination of the mental foramen, mandibular cortical width below the mental foramen was measured automatically with a computer-aided system by identifying the area of interest, enhancing the original image, determining inner and outer margins of the cortex, and selecting an appropriate point. Cortical width measured by this system was compared with BMD of the lumbar spine and the femoral neck. Results: There were statistically significant correlation between cortical width measured by the computer-aided system and spinal BMD (r=0.50) and femoral neck BMD (r=0.54). These correlations were similar with those between cortical width by manual measurement and skeletal BMD. Sensitivity and specificity for identifying postmenopausal women with low spinal BMD by the computer-aided system were about 88.0% and about 58.7%, respectively. Those for identifying postmenopausal women with low femoral neck BMD by this system were about 87.5% and about 56.3%, respectively. Conclusion: Our results suggest that our computer-aided system may be useful for identifying postmenopausal women with low skeletal BMD.
- Panoramic radiograph