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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

The effect of a manual instrumentation technique on five types of premolar root canal geometry assessed by microcomputed tomography and three-dimensional reconstruction

Ke-Zeng Li1, Yuan Gao1, Ru Zhang1, Tao Hu1* and Bin Guo2*

Author Affiliations

1 State Key Laboratory of Oral Diseases, West China College of Stomatology, Sichuan University, Chengdu, P.R. China

2 Institute of Stomatology, Chinese PLA General Hospital, Beijing, P.R. China

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BMC Medical Imaging 2011, 11:14  doi:10.1186/1471-2342-11-14

Published: 15 June 2011



Together with diagnosis and treatment planning, a good knowledge of the root canal system and its frequent variations is a necessity for successful root canal therapy. The selection of instrumentation techniques for variants in internal anatomy of teeth has significant effects on the shaping ability and cleaning effectiveness. The aim of this study was to reveal the differences made by including variations in the internal anatomy of premolars into the study protocol for investigation of a single instrumentation technique (hand ProTaper instruments) assessed by microcomputed tomography and three-dimensional reconstruction.


Five single-root premolars, whose root canal systems were classified into one of five types, were scanned with micro-CT before and after preparation with a hand ProTaper instrument. Instrumentation characteristics were measured quantitatively in 3-D using a customized application framework based on MeVisLab. Numeric values were obtained for canal surface area, volume, volume changes, percentage of untouched surface, dentin wall thickness, and the thickness of dentin removed. Preparation errors were also evaluated using a color-coded reconstruction.


Canal volumes and surface areas were increased after instrumentation. Prepared canals of all five types were straightened, with transportation toward the inner aspects of S-shaped or multiple curves. However, a ledge was formed at the apical third curve of the type II canal system and a wide range in the percentage of unchanged canal surfaces (27.4-83.0%) was recorded. The dentin walls were more than 0.3 mm thick except in a 1 mm zone from the apical surface and the hazardous area of the type II canal system after preparation with an F3 instrument.


The 3-D color-coded images showed different morphological changes in the five types of root canal systems shaped with the same hand instrumentation technique. Premolars are among the most complex teeth for root canal treatment and instrumentation techniques for the root canal systems of premolars should be selected individually depending on the 3-D canal configuration of each tooth. Further study is needed to demonstrate the differences made by including variations in the internal anatomy of teeth into the study protocol of clinical RCT for identifying the best preparation technique.

Manual instruments; Microcomputed tomography; Root canal preparation; Root canal system; Three-dimensional imaging