The effect of lighting conditions on caries interpretation with a laptop computer in a clinical setting

Mark J. Kutcher, Sajitha Kalathingal, John B. Ludlow, Murillo Abreu, Enrique Platin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Objective: To test the null hypothesis of no difference in caries detection in dim, bright, and hooded environments for laptop viewing of intraoral radiographs. Study design: Extracted posterior teeth were imaged with posterior bite wing geometry by using storage phosphor plates. Images were displayed on a laptop computer placed in 3 lighting environments. Six dental students and 6 faculty observers scored the caries status of proximal surfaces. Responses were compared to histologic ground truth by using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis and other measures of accuracy. Performance was also compared to photometer-measured light levels and time spent in observation. Results: ROC AZ was significantly higher for faculty using hooded displays (0.87) than in a bright clinical environment (0.79; P = .04). Student performance was highly variable and not significantly different in any of the lighting environments. Conclusion: The ability to detect caries by experienced clinicians may be improved by hooding laptop displays in bright clinical environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)537-543
Number of pages7
JournalOral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Oral Radiology and Endodontology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oral Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Dentistry(all)


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