What You Should Know About Cephalometric X-Rays

What You Should Know About Cephalometric X-Rays

You need an updated imaging system that produces high-quality cephalometric x-rays and want some guidance on your options. Well, you’re in luck! We work with practices just like yours every day to provide expertise on which imaging system best fits their clinical needs. When it comes to ceph x-rays, there are several features you’ll want to consider.

One-Shot Versus Scanning Cephs

When comparing 2D ceph x-ray units, you’ll find that you have a couple of options regarding the method of image acquisition: scanning and one-shot technology. A scanning ceph utilizes a narrow x-ray sensor that moves horizontally past the patient’s skull while exposed to radiation over a period of a few seconds, resulting in a complete cephalometric image. A one-shot ceph makes use of a larger, flat-panel x-ray sensor that can acquire the patient’s complete skull with one quick burst of radiation. Here are the benefits of each:

Scanning Cephs

In the past, digital cephalometric images were acquired by combining two narrow lateral scans into one larger image that provided a complete view of the patient’s anatomy. Today, ceph x-ray technology has taken a leap forward, using high-resolution x-ray sensors and more advanced software to deliver vastly improved cephalometric image quality.

Scanning cephalometric units are more common among the majority of dental imaging systems on the market, so you’ll have a wider selection of brands to choose from. The  Carestream CS 8100Planmeca ProMax, and Sirona Orthophos XG5 are available with scanning cephalometric modules.

Typically, scanning ceph x-ray units are also more affordable and are usually more compact in size. If your practice has limited space, a scanning ceph may be a better option.

One-Shot Cephs

One-shot ceph x-ray units have been introduced by a handful of manufacturers in recent years, using a larger x-ray sensor in conjunction with a very short burst of radiation to acquire a cephalometric image, much like the film-based analog units of the past.

One-shot cephs have a couple of advantages you will want to consider. First, utilizing a short burst of radiation helps limit the risk of x-ray exposure to the patient while speeding up the process of acquiring the image. Second, there is less probability of image distortion due to patient movement during the exam.

On the other hand, there are fewer imaging manufacturers that offer one-shot ceph technology, so your options are more limited. Carestream Dental has been a pioneer in one-shot ceph x-rays, offering this feature with many of their systems, including the  CS 9000C 3DCS 9300C Select, and CS 9300C Premium.

Layout Considerations

One area that is often overlooked when shopping for a dental imaging system with ceph capability is the physical space that the unit will be occupying within your practice. Ceph x-ray systems can take up considerable space, so you will want to make sure you research the dimensions of each unit when making your decision. Manufacturers typically design these systems with a bit of flexibility, providing the option to mount the ceph module on the right or left side of the imaging system based upon the layout of the area where your unit will be installed.


Full field-of-view cone beam imaging systems are another option for acquiring cephalometric x-rays. A cephalometric image can be extracted from a CBCT volume using a large field-of-view combined with sagittal slicing of the 3D image. For the best of both worlds, many manufacturers offer CBCT systems with an onboard 2D ceph module.


Software can make a big difference when it comes to dental imaging and your user experience. You’ll want to consider the ability to make 1:1 measurements and the availability of ceph tracing, which allows you to document anatomical movement over time. Great software can definitely elevate the capabilities of your ceph x-ray unit, so this should be a priority on your list of features to consider.

The Renew Digital Difference

Ready to take a look at our selection of cephalometric imaging systems? We are here to help! All of our certified pre-owned 2D and 3D imaging systems include training, support, and are backed by our comprehensive warranty.  Contact our team and learn more today!

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