Electronic length measurement using small and large files in enlarged canals

H. Q. Nguyen*, A. Y. Kaufman, R. C. Komorowski, S. Friedman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Electronic apex locators are frequently used attached to a small size endodontic file; however, the effect on the measurement of the relative diameters of the file and the root canal has not been clarified. In this study, the length of enlarged canals was measured using small size files and files matching the canal diameter to observe a possible discrepancy. The accuracy of electronic length control during canal preparation with rotary files was also assessed. The root canals in 21 extracted, single rooted teeth were accessed, and their actual length (AL) established by passing a size 10 file just through the minor apical foramen. The teeth were then embedded in an alginate mold. The initial canal length (IL) was measured with the Root ZX apex locator by negotiating a size 10 file to the apical constriction. The canal was enlarged to size 60 with rotary files while the length was continuously controlled with the apex locator. Then, the final length measurements were obtained with a size 10 file and a size 60 file (FL-10 and FL-60, respectively). The average values of IL, FL-10 and FL-60 were calculated and compared using Repeated Measures Analysis of Variance followed by Tukey's Studentized Range test (P < 0.05). Using composite resin, the size 60 files were secured at the FL-60 length, the teeth were removed from the alginate mold, stained with Picroformal DI Buoin stain and the position of the file tip was observed histomorphometrically after the apical 4 mm of the canal was exposed by grinding the buccal aspect of the root. The IL was 0.45 mm shorter than AL (P < 0.05). The differences between FL-10, FL-60 and IL were not statistically significant. Histomorphometrically, the apical constriction was absent in all the teeth, but the file tips were confined within the root. This study concluded that the Root ZX indicated the location of an apical constriction even when the anatomic constriction was eliminated. In the enlarged canals, length measurements obtained with small and large size files were comparable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-364
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Endodontic Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1996


  • Apical constriction
  • Electronic apex locators, root length determination
  • Root canal preparation


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