To evaluate the impact of additional lateral cephalometric radiography in orthodontic diagnosis and treatment planning. Forty-three patients seeking orthodontic treatment, and for whom pretreatment diagnostic records were available, were randomly selected. Ten qualified orthodontists were involved in this study. The patients' records included three photographs of the angle trimmed dental casts, digital lateral cephalometric and panoramic radiographs, and standard clinical photographs comprising seven intra- and four extraoral pictures. Records were evaluated in two sessions. At the first session, orthodontists evaluated records without lateral cephalometric radiography (LCR). In the second session, the same information was presented, but with LCR. Between the two sessions the order in which the cases were presented was altered to avoid bias. The percentage of agreement between sessions was lower for diagnosis than for treatment planning. Concerning skeletal classification, the least experienced orthodontist was the least consistent (28%), while the more experienced orthodontist was the more reliable (67%). In terms of treatment modalities, in general there was an agreement of 64%. The most frequent modifications in treatment modalities were seen in Class II malocclusion patients. The results of our study suggest that the majority of Portuguese orthodontists judge that LCR is important to producing a treatment plan. Despite that, it does not seem to have an influence on orthodontic treatment planning.

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