Switching to digital x-rays is a massive change for any office. The initial up-front investment alone is enough to deter a digitally aspiring doctor from taking the plunge. This does not even consider the learning curve and impact that the staff should expect. Two years ago, my office functioned with a paper appointment book and regular film radiographs. Today, we have a local area network set up with a server, five printers and 14 different PCs, each of which we use to schedule, file claims, view radiographs, display treatment plans and printr referrals. The radiographic imaging system behind all of this? Dr. Suni Plus Intraoral Digital Sensor.
Suni’s Digital sensor comes in three sizes that correlate with traditional film: 0, 1 and 2. The thickness of the sensor itself is 3.2 mm, and is connected by a nine-foot (3m) cord to a capture box. The capture box interprets the image recorded by the digital sensor and hooks up to a USB connection to the PC in the operatory. You can use a tablet if mobility is a priority, but we use regular desktop PCs. Any computer built in the last year is plenty powerful to run the system; but it is limited to Windows based machines.
Prof. Suni is the software which drives the system. The software allows you to zoom in on an image or enhance the picture for better diagnostics. Images are catalogued by tooth number, so you can either pull up the just most recent bitewings or all the images in the database for a patient’s upper right quad. Images are stored on the server, and workstations must be licensed (additional fee) to be able to link in. The image is stored in a proprietary format, but it is easily exported as a .jpg (common picture format). This is great for attaching to e-claims or for e-mailing a high resolution image to a specialist. They also have a “sniffer” program that will pull up the images associated with an open patient file, so it’s compatible with most major practice management software.
It’s amazing though to be able to sit in my office, and instantly view the bitewing radiographs a hygienist just took before entering the room for an exam. No more squinting at a small piece of film, hoping the patient see can what you’re pointing out. I can spot-zoom right to the problem area on a 19-inch flat-screen monitor, and the patient doesn’t even have to put on his or her glasses.
Resolution for radiographs often is judged by line pairs per millimeter. Without delving into the details, it is a measure of how clear an image is. Standard x-ray film is around 8-11 lp/mm. The Suni sensor has been rated at 22 lp/mm. This is competitive with other leading manufacturers of digital sensors. Remember, one of the main advantages to digital radiography is that it allows for reduced exposure. The sensor is so “sensitive” that you can attenuate the exposure up to 75 percent depending on your x-ray generator and still get a great image.
To be completely honest, the staff was less than excited about switching to digital x-rays. Yours will be too. Expect it. But as many offices will tell you, they would never go back. Traditional Rinn mounts, instant images, no development time, and no need to find anything in a chart makes staff members’ lives easier. We blocked off one day for the installation, calibration and training. We had a trainer from Suni there to show us how to use the system. We had a few glitches along the way with random crashes as everyone learned to navigate the software, but those were over after a few weeks.
Suni offers a five-year warranty on the sensor. This is important with any sensor, since they cost on average about 10 times as much as your handpiece to replace. Tech support was available and actually helpful, whether the issue was a bad sensor, or an upgrade to our practice management software. If I was unable to get a representative directly, I got a call back within the hour. Software upgrades don’t really happen too often but are included at no extra charge.
Before we bought anything, we did our homework. Digital radiography is so much more than another one of those “Wow” factors to bring to your office. Consider the cost, the impact on your staff, and the network and PC maintenance needed to keep the whole thing up and running. In my view, it is well worth it when you consider the improved diagnostics, reduced exposure for the patients, and better storage than film. The Dr. Suni Plus Intraoral Sensor was a calculated but excellent leap for our office into the digital arena. Plan to be overwhelmed a bit if this is your first entry to digital, but I know that once you have experienced it, you will never look back.
Dr. Suni Plus Intraoral Digital Sensor
Excellent resolution, thin profile, low learning curve.
High upfront cost; need PC at every station to fully take advantage of the system.
The Bottom Line
Excellent x-ray sensor to get your practice going digital.