Use of Laser-Induced Fluorescence for Determination of Root Canal Pathology and Localization of Pathological Tissues to Facilitate Endodontic Therapy
Background: Currently endodontic therapy is based upon radiographic information and tactile feedback. Direct detection and localization of infected dentin and pupal tissue has not been possible. It has been determined that when excited at appropriate wavelengths of light, the fluorescence emission of healthy dentin, decayed dentin, bone, vital pulp, non-vital pulp, and pus have unique spectra. Some endodontic organisms can also be detected using this approach. Technology: Researchers at the University of California, Irvine have developed a fiber-optic system for determination of root canal pathology and for the detection and localization of pathological tissues. The system, using specialized equipment and techniques, can perform multi-wavelength excitation and emission spectra of all root canal components. Using this novel approach, a fiber optic can be placed in the root canal to provide excitation and detection. Thus, specific locations within the root canal can be probed for the presence of specific pathologies. Treatment can be evaluated and modified for optimal effectiveness in an ongoing, rapid, non-invasive manner. Application: Successful endodontic therapy requires total debridment and cleansing of the root canal to the cemento-dentinal junction, and full obturation of the root canal to the cemento-dentinal junction. The root canal must be cleansed of soft tissue, necrotic debris, and pathological dentin before filling. The elimination of most bacterial contaminants is also desirable. Currently, clinicians are unable to directly evaluate the effectiveness of preparation techniques in achieving these goals. This results in pain for the patient and treatment failure. The method being developed at the University of California, Irvine has the advantage of showing differential fluorescence emission in healthy dentin versus decayed dentin, vital pulp versus non-vital pulp, bone and pustule areas. Thus, comprehensive root canal diagnostics and ongoing treatment evaluation are made possible with this technique.
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