What is a cephalometric X-ray of the skull?

The cephalometric X-ray is a radiograph of the head, which can provide images used to make precise measurements of the different structures and characteristics of the skull (cephalometric analysis). It is a study that can also provide panoramic dental data prior to orthodontic treatment. It can be done from three angles (lateral-lateral, posterior-anterior and axial), but the most widely used angle for cephalometric analysis is the lateral projection.


What is the purpose of a cephalometric X-ray (analysis)?

The cephalometric X-ray allows dentists to get an overview of the anatomy of the head and determine whether the relative position of the dental arches is correct and if the teeth are in the right position relative to the bone. Thus, it allows planning of corrective actions in case of problems such as malocclusion and reverse bite injuries. Moreover, it uses the posterior-anterior projection to analyse any potential asymmetries of the skull. 

Preparation standards

The cephalometric X-ray requires no specific preparations.

Which patients can undergo the exam?

All patients may be subjected to teleradiography of the skull, except for pregnant women.

Is the exam dangerous or painful?

The cephalometric X-ray is not a painful examination. The risks are the same as each radiological examination, but modern machines offer the use of minimum dose of radiation to achieve optimum results.


How is the exam performed?

The patient is made ​​to wear a lead apron to shield the rest of the body from radiation. After that, the patient is placed standing inside a device called craniostat, where two extensions that enter each ear enable the patient to assume and maintain the correct position throughout the entire exam. The eyes should be directed forward, teeth clenched and lips soft. To achieve the correct posture, the patient may be asked to swallow and keep the jaws in position. The exam lasts around 8 to 15 seconds.