Importance of early recognition and treatment of deformational plagiocephaly with orthotic cranioplasty

Cleft Palate Craniofac J. 1999 Mar;36(2):127-30. doi: 10.1597/1545-1569_1999_036_0127_ioerat_2.3.co_2.


Objectives: Infants with positional plagiocephaly often exhibit complex multistructural asymmetries that affect the face and skull base as well as the cranial vault. Dynamic Orthotic Cranioplasty (DOC) was developed as a nonsurgical alternative for the treatment of positional plagiocephaly. The effectiveness of DOC has been discussed elsewhere. The purpose of this study was to assess the influence of factors such as entrance age, treatment time, and initial severity on the effectiveness of correction.

Methods: The study sample consisted of 258 children with cranial vault asymmetry (CVA) treated prior to 1 year of age. In addition, 246 patients (92%) exhibited concurrent skull base (SBA) and orbitotragial depth (OTDA) asymmetries. All patients had been diagnosed with nonsynostotic plagiocephaly, did not have other contributing medical conditions, were compliant with DOC protocol, and had complete anthropometric measurements at entrance and exit from treatment.

Results: Mean age at start of treatment was 6.5 (+/-1.9) months (range, 2.8 to 11.0 months), with an average treatment time of 4.1 (+/-2.2) months. The effects of the treatment variables were analyzed using three-way analysis of variance. As expected, initial severity was significantly associated with the amount of correction (p = .0001). However, treatment time was not significant (p > .05). Most importantly, the analysis revealed that, having accounted for initial severity, entrance age had a statistically significant effect [F(1,254) = 8.36, p = .0042] on the correction of CVA. Similar results were identified for both the SBA [F(1,254) = 5.53, p = .0195] and the OTDA [F(1,254) = 5.22, p = .0231] asymmetries.

Conclusions: These findings support clinical observations that earlier intervention results in significantly improved treatment of plagiocephaly, independent of the severity of the presenting asymmetries.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cephalometry
  • Cranial Sutures / pathology*
  • Craniosynostoses / etiology
  • Craniosynostoses / therapy*
  • Facial Asymmetry / etiology
  • Facial Asymmetry / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Care / methods
  • Occipital Bone / pathology
  • Orthotic Devices
  • Skull / pathology*
  • Skull Base / pathology
  • Sleep
  • Supine Position*