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Brazilian Oral Research

versión impresa ISSN 1806-8324versión On-line ISSN 1807-3107

Braz. oral res. vol.23 no.3 São Paulo jul./set. 2009 



Reproducibility, reliability and validity of measurements obtained from Cecile3 digital models



Gustavo Adolfo Watanabe-KannoI; Jorge AbrãoII; Hiroshi Miasiro JuniorI; Alfonso Sánchez-AyalaIII; Manuel O. LagravèreIV

IMSc Student, Graduate Program in Orthodontics - Department of Orthodontics, School of Dentistry, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brazil
IIPhD, Associate Professor - Department of Orthodontics, School of Dentistry, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brazil
IIIPhD Student, Graduate Program in Prosthodontics, Department of Prosthodontics, Piracicaba Dental School, University of Campinas, Piracicaba, SP, Brazil
IVResearch Associate, Graduate Program in Orthodontics, Department of Dentistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Corresponding author




The aim of this study was to determine the reproducibility, reliability and validity of measurements in digital models compared to plaster models. Fifteen pairs of plaster models were obtained from orthodontic patients with permanent dentition before treatment. These were digitized to be evaluated with the program Cécile3 v2.554.2 beta. Two examiners measured three times the mesiodistal width of all the teeth present, intercanine, interpremolar and intermolar distances, overjet and overbite. The plaster models were measured using a digital vernier. The t-Student test for paired samples and interclass correlation coefficient (ICC) were used for statistical analysis. The ICC of the digital models were 0.84 ± 0.15 (intra-examiner) and 0.80 ± 0.19 (inter-examiner). The average mean difference of the digital models was 0.23 ± 0.14 and 0.24 ± 0.11 for each examiner, respectively. When the two types of measurements were compared, the values obtained from the digital models were lower than those obtained from the plaster models (p < 0.05), although the differences were considered clinically insignificant (differences < 0.1 mm). The Cécile digital models are a clinically acceptable alternative for use in Orthodontics.

Descriptors: Dental models; Reproducibility of results; Orthodontics.




Digital technology is slowly influencing different scientific areas and improving them. One of these areas is orthodontics, where diagnostic tools, digital photography and cephalometric software, among others, are improving this area.1 Plaster models in orthodontics are necessary diagnostic tools but present several disadvantages such as the need for storage areas, high risk of breakage, loss of information and difficulty to send to other clinicians in multidisciplinary cases.2,3 Some alternatives to using plaster models have been suggested such as photocopies, photographs, holograms and digitalization of points from the plaster cast.4,5 Digital models now offer some advantages that include ease of storage and retrieval, ease of interoffice transferability, and possibly similar or better diagnostic ability.6 Some studies evaluated different methods to calculate tooth size discrepancy and found no statistical significant differences in the measurements obtained from plaster and digital models, and suggested the need for further research to determine accuracy, reliability and reproducibility of digital models using new software versions.2,7 One group of investigators found a significant difference between plaster and digital model linear measurements but concluded that the average difference did not appear to be clinically relevant and suggested that the software presented the advantage of being able to rotate and enlarge images on the screen.8,9 The accuracy and reliability of measurements made on computer-based models appeared to be as accurate and reliable as the ones obtained from plaster models.2 On the other hand, other investigators found excellent reproducibility of digital models and significant differences in some measurements regarding reliability and validity, but these were not considered clinically significant.10,11

Cécile3, a digital modeling analysis software, was created in 2003 by Bibliocast, Montreuil. Some advantages of this software include the possibility of performing space analysis and creating virtual set-ups for treatment planning purposes. Nevertheless, there is a lack of literature with respect to its measurement validity, reliability and or reproducibility.

Digital models could be as reliable as plaster models, and an additional tool for orthodontic diagnosis. In this case, some fundamental factors such as spacing condition, teeth inclination, rotations, presence of interproximal contacts and other anatomical variations should also be considered.12-15 Because the need for evidence-based orthodontics is increasing, the degree of usefulness of different emerging methods ought to be evaluated. For these reasons, the objective of the present study is to determine the reproducibility, reliability, and validity of measurements obtained from Cécile3 digital models.


Material and Methods

The study sample consisted of fifteen pairs of randomly selected initial model casts (upper and lower) from patients that presented for treatment at the orthodontic clinic, School of Dentistry, University of São Paulo. Inclusion criteria was that all 12-18 year old patients had to have complete permanent dentition erupted from first molar to first molar, no caries lesions, no interproximal wear, no extractions nor previous orthodontic treatment.

Plaster casts of the 15 patients were sent to the Bibliocast company (Montreuil-France) in order to be digitized (3D CT Scanning) and to obtain a digital file to be uploaded into the analysis software. Digital files with 2.2 MB were obtained for each pair of plaster models, and measurements were made on the digitized models using Cécile3 software version 2.554.2 beta, to the nearest 0.1 mm. The bases of the plaster models were made parallel to the inferior occlusal plane (crown tip of the lower canine to the distobuccal cuspid of the second lower molar) using a glass plate. Before starting the measurements, the digital models were positioned with the base parallel to the horizontal software guideline reference; then anterior and posterior teeth were measured from the facial view. After that, the digital models were rotated to confirm the accuracy of the measurements. For severely malpositioned anterior teeth, the images were rotated on screen, and the measurements were made from the occlusal view to provide better visibility. For ease and accuracy of measurements, the images were enlarged on screen as needed by using the magnifying feature (Figure 1). Transversal distances were also measured from the occlusal view, and overjet and overbite were measured using the analysis tools (Figure 2). The plaster models were measured using a vernier digital caliper (Mitutoyo, model 500-144B, Suzano, SP, Brazil) with an accuracy of 0.01 mm. The measurements obtained are described in Table 1 and were measured by two different investigators, each repeating the measurement set three times.



Statistical analysis

The data were analyzed using the statistical program SPSS for Windows version 16.0 (SPSS, Chicago, IL, USA). Sample normality and homogeneity of variances were determined using the Shapiro-Wilks and Levene tests. The Intraclass correlation coefficient test (ICC) was used to determine the reproducibility of the measures obtained. The Student t-Test was used to compare examiner reliability for both methods used and the validity between them.



Intra- and inter-examiner reliability for both methods was generally high. The average intra-examiner reliability was 0.852 ± 0.12 (range 0.706-0.940) and 0.824 ± 0.15 (range 0.663-0.927) for the plaster and Cécile3 digital models respectively. Inter-examiner values were 0.818 ± 0.18 (range 0.575-0.931) and 0.782 ± 0.19 (range 0.506-0.917) for the plaster and Cécile3 digital models respectively. Overjet presented the highest intra-examiner reliability (0.996), while the mesiodistal width of the lower left canine presented the lowest value (0.537 for the plaster models and 0.367 for the Cécile3 digital models). The maxillary interpremolar distance had the greatest inter-examiner reliability in plaster models (0.999) and the maxillary intercanine distance had the greatest inter-examiner reliability in the Cécile3 digital models (0.998). The lowest inter-examiner value was found in the mesiodistal width of the lower left canine (0.318 in the plaster models and 0.158 in the Cécile3 digital models).

The mean measurement error for all measurements was obtained for the plaster and Cécile3 digital models for both examiners. There were no significant differences in measurement errors in most measurements except for the lower right mandibular lateral incisor mesiodistal width, lower right first premolar mesiodistal width, upper right lateral incisor mesiodistal width and lower interpremolar distance (p < 0.05) for examiner 1; and except for the upper right canine mesiodistal width, lower intercanine distance, lower interpremolar distance and overbite for examiner 2 (p < 0.05).

The second trial of measurements for each examiner was chosen to determine the validity of measurements (Table 2). All values obtained from the Cécile3 digital models were smaller than the values obtained from the plaster models with the exception of the upper interpremolar distance for examiner 2. The mean differences between plaster and Cécile3 digital models were 0.17 ± 0.06 mm for examiner 1. The lower right mandibular first molar presented the highest variability (0.39 ± 0.28 mm). For examiner 2, the mean difference was 0.19 ± 0.06 mm, with the highest value obtained for overjet (0.31 ± 0.22 mm). The Student t-Test showed significant differences between the measurements obtained from the Cécile3 and plaster models except for the first molar, canine and central incisor of the lower left quadrant, second premolar and first premolar from the upper right quadrant and upper left central incisor (p > 0.05) for examiner 1. For examiner 2, the upper intermolar distance and lower intermolar distance did not present a significant difference (p > 0.05).



The aim of this study was to determine if Cécile3 digital models are as reliable as plaster models. To achieve this, reproducibility, reliability and validity of the measurements obtained were evaluated.

Reproducibility of Cécile3 models

Reproducibility evaluates the agreement between two readings from the same sample (which in the present study would be for Cécile3 digital models and plaster models).16 While studying reproducibility in orthodontics, Roberts, Richmond16 (1997) stated that an ICC < 0.4 is considered low, between 0.4 and 0.75 is acceptable, and > 0.75 is good. The present study presented an ICC higher than 0.75 in the intra- and inter-examiner evaluations. Low values were only present for the mesiodistal width of the left mandibular canine in plaster models (ICC-Intra-examiner = 0.537 ICC-Inter-examiner = 0.318) and Cécile3 models (ICC-Intra-examiner = 0.367 ICC-Inter-examiner = 0.158). These findings might be attributed to the fact that, in some cases, the interproximal area between the teeth is not clearly defined, which can alter the reproducibility of the measurements at the time of marking points. However, considering all the results, we can infer that the differences are clinically acceptable, and reproducibility is high. Stevens et al.10 (2006), using the concordance correlation coefficient (CCC), showed that all 50 intra-examiner measurements had excellent reproducibility for both plaster and OrthoCad models with the exception of 7 measurements (4 plaster and 3 digital), which were considered good. Quimby et al.2 (2004) found a high degree of reproducibility with an ICC > 0.90 for the measurements made on both plaster and computer-based models, measured by two examiners.

Reliability of Cécile3 digital models

Reliability was considered as the extent to which a measurement was repeatable under identical conditions, between Cécile3 digital models and plaster models.16 No statistical significant differences were found in most variables measured for both examiners. The measurement differences were clinically insignificant for examiner 1 (range 0.00-0.12 mm) and examiner 2 (range 0.00-0.09 mm). Similar results were obtained by Stevens et al.10 (2006), observing a good reliability for the measurements obtained in OrthoCad and plaster models. Quimby et al.2 (2004) demonstrated statistical differences between the plaster and digital models in all their measurements with the exception of the mandibular intercanine width. The measurements made on computer-based models showed greater variation in all categories except overbite and overjet. Most measurements differed by less than 1 mm. These findings are similar to those of the present study where computer-based models appeared to be a clinically acceptable alternative to conventional plaster models.

Validity of Cécile3 digital models

Validity was considered as the extent to which the Cécile3 digital models measured against the plaster models (gold standard).16 Plaster and Cécile3 digital models presented differences in mesiodistal tooth width measurements, intercanine distance, interpremolar distance, intermolar distance, overjet and overbite. The mean differences between the plaster and Cécile3 digital models for examiner 1 had a range between 0.07 mm and 0.39 mm; for examiner 2, the range was between 0.01 mm and 0.31 mm. Most of the obtained values were statistically different (Table 2). Santoro et al.17 (2003) found similar results, where the mean differences ranged from 0.16 mm to 0.49 mm and were all statistically significant with the exception of overbite. Garino, Garino8 (2002) and Rheude et al.6 (2005) found that the measurements made from digital models were clinically acceptable, with reasonable reliability and reproducibility and adequate clinical information for diagnosis and treatment planning, thus eliminating the need for plaster models. Oliveira et al.1 (2007) did not find significant differences with the exception of the mesiodistal width of the lower right second premolar (p < 0.05). Zilberman et al.9 (2003) and Quimby et al.2 (2004) stated that even when no significant differences were found, these appeared to be clinically acceptable. In the present study, all values obtained from the Cécile3 digital models were smaller than those obtained from the plaster models. Similar results were found by Mullen et al.11 (2007), who observed that the measurements on the ball-bearing mounted models were on average 0.067 mm greater in the e-model software than the direct measurements obtained on the casts (range: 0 to -0.16 mm, p < .0045).

Limitations of Cécile3 digital models

Differences can be explained by the difficulty in locating the points, especially at the level of the interproximal contacts, which is affected by the operator's experience in handling a digital model. One disadvantage of digital models is that they have to be static in order to locate or mark the points needed to obtain a measurement.1 A digital model can be blown up in the computer screen, which gives a significant advantage on locating landmarks because a 3-dimensional structure is viewed as a 2-dimensional image.14 In this study, the same difficulties and advantages were experienced by the examiners. Prior training is required to use the software, since those more familiar with the computer resources are more capable of achieving more precise measurements. An extra difficulty observed was the presence of shadows (especially in crowded areas) in Cécile3 digital models resulting from the digitalization process. Also, occlusal anatomy and wear facets in Cécile3 digital models did not present a high definition. With respect to overbite and overjet, it was shown that these measurements were influenced by how the digital models were mounted in maximum intercuspidation on the computer. Finally, it was observed that Cécile3 digital models took considerably less time than plaster models to measure. This represents a more efficient way of performing diagnosis, as mentioned by Zilberman et al.9 (2003).



Cecile3 presented a high reproducibility and reliability in obtaining different measurements in models.

Within the limitations of this study, the validity of the measurements obtained from Cécile3 digital models compared to those obtained from plaster models could be considered clinically acceptable.



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Corresponding author:
Gustavo Adolfo Watanabe-Kanno
Departamento de Ortodontia e Odontopediatria da FOUSP
Av. Prof. Lineu Prestes, 2227, Cidade Universitária
São Paulo - SP - Brazil
CEP: 05508-900

Received for publication on Oct 02, 2008
Accepted for publication on Mar 16, 2009

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