Diagnostic paths for a mouth-breathing patient
American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics
Introduction: The clinical choice of diagnostic tests or treatment options is determined by the probability that the value of their execution (called the warrant for the test) exceeds their cost, and by their usefulness. The purpose of this study was to determine the warrant and usefulness of STOP-Bang, an obstructive sleep apnea screening questionnaire, and cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) information about the minimal cross-sectional area for referring a mouth-breathing patient to a sleep specialist and for modifying planned orthodontic treatment. Methods: A branching survey was used to identify the prominence of paths between the presenting situation, 2 diagnostic tests, and 2 referral and/or treatment options. A description was given of a hypothetical patient: an overweight, mouth-breathing female teenager. Path analysis was used as a method for quantifying diagnostic warrant and usefulness. Results: There was a wide variation among the 125 orthodontists who responded to the survey. All paths were chosen. The use of tests altered the referral (χ2 = 8.039; P = 0.03) and/or treatment decisions (χ2 = 12.636; P = 0.005). Ownership of a CBCT system significantly influenced the use of this diagnostic test, with owning a CBCT system resulting in greater use in-office (χ2 = 50.416; P <0.001) and greater use in the study (χ2 = 22.959; P <0.001). The usefulness of the diagnostic tests could not be determined directly because common values were used for each test, but the variation in the use of this standard stimulus was very large, indicating personal differences in the interpretation of actual data. Conclusions: Wide variation in the choice and interpretation of diagnostic tests for referral and orthodontic treatment modification relative to airway condition exists among orthodontists. Diagnostic path analysis is a potentially useful model for studying how practitioners make decisions independent of research evidence.
Chambers, D. W.
Diagnostic paths for a mouth-breathing patient.
American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, 158(4), 564–571.