Endoscopic near-infrared dental imaging with indocyanine green: a pilot study

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Current dental diagnosis, especially tooth abnormalities, relies largely on X-ray-based imaging, a technique that requires specialized skills and suffers from ionizing radiation. Here, we present a pilot study in rats of an efficient, ionizing-radiation-free and easy-to-use alternative for dental imaging. Postnatal rats at different ages were injected with indocyanine green and molars were imaged by a laboratory-designed endoscopic near-infrared (NIR) dental imaging system. The results indicate that the endoscopic NIR dental imaging can be used to observe the morphology of postnatal rat molars, especially at early postnatal stages when morphology of the molar is indistinguishable under visible conditions. A small abnormal cusp was observed and distinguished from the normal cusps by the NIR dental imaging system. Dental structures, such as unerupted molars, can be imaged as soon as 10 min after the injection of indocyanine green; imaging after 24 h shows improved imaging contrast. Overall, the endoscopic NIR fluorescence dental imaging system described here may be useful in dental research; this technique may serve as a safe, real-time imaging tool for dental diagnosis and treatment beyond experimental systems in the future.

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Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences

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