The aims of this study were (1) to compare the accuracy of conventional D- and E-speed film radiography and direct digital radiography using the RadioVisioGraphy and Visualix systems for the detection of enamel approximal caries lesions and (2) to compare the accuracy of D- and E-speed films and the Visualix system for the detection of dentinal occlusal caries lesions. In total, 122 approximal surfaces were examined in vitro by 3 observers and 65 occlusal surfaces by 2 observers. The true caries diagnosis was based on histological assessment of the surfaces after sectioning the teeth. Approximal surfaces were deemed diseased by the presence of a demineralization in enamel, while occlusal surfaces were deemed diseased by the presence of a demineralization into dentine. The diagnostic accuracy for each radiographic method was expressed as a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve area. For the approximal surfaces, the areas under the ROC curves ranged from 0.53 (Visualix) to 0.70 (E-speed film). For the occlusal surfaces, the areas ranged from 0.62 (Visualix) to 0.79 (D- and E-speed films). No statistically significant differences between mean ROC curve areas for the radiographic methods were found either for the approximal or for the occlusal surfaces. It was concluded that radiography was of almost no value in the detection of enamel approximal caries lesions, but of some value in the detection of dentinal lesions in occlusal surfaces.
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