BACKGROUND: Restoring craniofacial symmetry is an important objective in the treatment of many craniofacial conditions. Normal form has been measured using anthropometry, cephalometry, and photography, yet all of these modalities have drawbacks. In this study, the authors define normal pediatric craniofacial form and craniofacial asymmetry using stereophotogrammetric images, which capture a densely sampled set of points on the form.
METHODS: After institutional review board approval, normal, healthy children (n = 533) with no known craniofacial abnormalities were recruited at well-child visits to undergo full head stereophotogrammetric imaging. The children's ages ranged from 0 to 18 years. A symmetric three-dimensional template was registered and scaled to each individual scan using 25 manually placed landmarks. The template was deformed to each subject's three-dimensional scan using a thin-plate spline algorithm and closest point matching. Age-based normal facial models were derived. Mean facial asymmetry and statistical characteristics of the population were calculated.
RESULTS: The mean head asymmetry across all pediatric subjects was 1.5 ± 0.5 mm (range, 0.46 to 4.78 mm), and the mean facial asymmetry was 1.2 ± 0.6 mm (range, 0.4 to 5.4 mm). There were no significant differences in the mean head or facial asymmetry with age, sex, or race.
CONCLUSIONS: Understanding the "normal" form and baseline distribution of asymmetry is an important anthropomorphic foundation. The authors present a method to quantify normal craniofacial form and baseline asymmetry in a large pediatric sample. The authors found that the normal pediatric craniofacial form is asymmetric, and does not change in magnitude with age, sex, or race.