revolutionizing health care
S. Brent Dove, DDS, MS, associate professor of dental diagnostic science, is a digital imaging wizard.
Because of him and his imaging team, Health Science Center dental providers can capture digital images with intraoral cameras, then store them on a computer and/or send them over the Internet or phone lines. "The problem for an instructor is showing students a representation of disease processes--we're with students for a limited amount of time and they see a limited number of patients," explained Dr. Dove. "Now we can extend students' experiences by digitally capturing representations of disease--students will be able to access the computer data base and look at 25 or more different cases of a specific pathology. A library of digital images, available on demand, can be included in the curriculum."
The digital image capturing effort and data base also will expand the Health Science Center's referral abilities. "Dental providers in South Texas or any other part of this country or the world can use this tool as a resource," explained Dr. Dove. "And after students leave the school, they'll still have a way to benefit from the expertise and training of the faculty.
"We also have a teledentistry project tied in with Dr. Cronenberger's distance learning project," Dr. Dove continued. Helen J. Cronenberger, PhD, is director of the Health Science Center's center for distance learning. "While the intraoral camera has been used for almost a decade, the ability to capture digital images and transmit them over the Internet is new," Dr. Dove added. "We're evaluating ways it can be used in a dental practice--images could be sent quickly to other practitioners to get second opinions, for example."
Dr. Dove and his colleague, W. Doss McDavid, PhD, professor of dental diagnostic science, made history in 1989 when they made the first digital panoramic x-ray in the world. "The device takes digital panoramic x-rays of the entire oral cavity and eliminates the need for film processing--it also exposes the patient to less radiation," Dr. Dove said. "When the image is captured in digital form, it can be stored on a computer disk and recalled for display on a computer monitor."
Drs. Dove and McDavid will continue their digital imaging efforts with a $158,000 grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Their new project, titled "A computer-controlled system for digital radiography of the head and neck," is a two-year study running through 1999. An additional $210,000 will be contributed to the project from private sponsors.
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