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Cone Beam CT 3D Spinal Imaging & Upper Cervical Chiropractic

Example image from CBCT x-ray at Elite Chiropractic NW
Dr. Cotten D.C. aligning a patient in the CBCT for imaging as part of the Blair technique at Elite Chiropractic NW

What is Cone Beam CT (CBCT) and 3D Spinal Imaging?

Cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) is a state-of-the-art type of x-ray that can view the upper cervical and lower cervical vertebrae of the spine in 3 dimensions (3D). This technology allows upper cervical doctors to visualize and measure the upper neck alignment in a way that is completely revolutionary in the chiropractic profession.

Why is viewing the upper neck in 3D so important?

Since the human structure is 3 dimensional, it is vital to view it with 3D imaging in order to accurately evaluate and analyze the body structures and misalignments. Traditional digital x-ray is 2D, so certain factors like anatomical variations, positioning errors, and asymmetry of structures can result in misinterpretation and less analyzation purposes. Until now, traditional x-ray, was simply the best form of imaging we had available for the spine. Cone beam imaging has changed the whole dynamic of upper cervical chiropractic care and the clinical outcomes and results.

With this technology, your upper cervical chiropractor will be able to identify whether the client has spinal degeneration, structural abnormalities, or upper cervical misalignments.

Your upper cervical doctor will also have the benefit of looking at different structures such as airway issues, TMJ dysfunctions, jaw rotations, and head tilts or imbalances, Another advantage utilizing this type of imaging is the decreased radiation exposure. CBCT imaging actually emits less radiation compared to traditional digital x-ray imaging units.

How does the radiation exposure compare to that of typical digital x-ray?

The radiation exposure is much less than standard x-ray units.  A single standard CBCT scan is about 237 microsieverts, equivalent to about 1/10 the radiation exposure of a standard 4-view cervical spine x-ray series. This is the equivalent to the exposure of a 5 hour airplane flight.

How does the 3D imaging change expected clinical results?

Because of the increased information provided by the 3D spinal imaging, better results and outcomes are expected compared to traditional digital imaging. With the use of our special software, your upper cervical doctor can measure the images in order to view the upper neck anatomy and surrounding structures with incredible clarity and precision.

How does the procedure work?

The client sits in a chair with the head in a supported position. You will be asked to remain very still while the arm of the film panel rotates around your head by 360 degrees, capturing multiple images from every angle. While the film rotates around your head, it will take over +450 images. The special software takes all the pixels from the images and instantaneously creates a 3D view of your head and neck and surrounding tissues. You and your doctor will be able to briefly view your anatomy as a 3D image within minutes of taking one 3D scan.

How does the doctor use Cone Beam CT 3D Spinal Imaging?

After scanning the client, your upper cervical doctor will analyze the 3D spinal images and view them on a user-friendly software containing basic 3D imaging tools. With this special software, the images are adjusted for better analyzation and diagnostic purposes.

Recap of the benefits of 3D Spinal Imaging with CBCT?

  • Less radiation compared to traditional x-rays

  • Better image quality (3D vs. 2D)

  • Wider variety of viewing angles to see more structures

  • Smoother client experience by providing quick and efficient images

  • More precise recommendations to gain better clinical outcomes and results

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