Object: The aim of this study was to construct a model of changes in orbital volume that occur throughout childhood from the age of 1 month to 15 years, which could be used for comparative studies of disease states affecting orbital growth.
Methods: Using the procedure of segmentation on magnetic resonance images obtained in 67 healthy children, orbital volume was measured and plotted against age. During the first few months of life left orbital volume is on average 15 cm3 in male and 13 cm3 in female infants; these volumes increase to 26 cm3 and 24 cm3, respectively, by the time the child reaches 15 years of age. During the first few months of life right orbital volume is on average 16 cm3 in male and 13 cm3 in female infants; these volumes increase to 27 cm3 and 25 cm3, respectively, by the time the child is 15 years old. This represents an overall increase in orbital volume by a factor of 1.7 in boys and 1.8 in girls. By the time the child has reached 5 years of age, the orbital volume for both right and left sides has reached on average 77% of the volume seen at 15 years in both sexes. The differences between the two sides are not statistically significant for either sex. The change in orbital volume that is associated with age in general displays a linear pattern. Throughout childhood, orbital volumes are larger in boys than in girls, but share a similar growth pattern. The difference between the two sexes tends toward statistical significance during the first 5 years of life (left orbit p = 0.1, right orbit p = 0.04).
Conclusions: During early childhood, orbital volume increases in a linear fashion, achieving a significant proportion of its final growth by the time the child is 5 years old.