Introduction: Pierre Robin sequence (PR) and Treacher Collins syndrome (TC) are congenital disorders associated with multiple craniofacial abnormalities. The mandibular malformations linked with these maladies are closely associated with the form and function of the temporalis muscle. Despite these associations, a paucity of research has been directed at quantifying how these malformations affect the tissues of the temporal region. In this paper, we seek to quantify differences in the temporalis muscle and the temporal fat pad using a novel CT-derived analytic program to examine craniofacial morphomic indices within these patient groups in comparison to normal age-matched controls. We posit that the temporalis muscle and temporal fat pad, like other derivatives of the first branchial arch, are hypoplastic in patients with TC and PR compared to age-matched controls.
Methods: High-throughput image analysis was used to reconstruct the 3-dimensional (3D) anatomy and quantify morphomic measures of the temporalis muscle and temporal fat pad in children with PR, TC, and age-matched controls. These steps were completed in a semi-automated method using algorithms programmed in MATLAB v13.0. The 3D reconstructions were analyzed in 3 children with PR (6 temporal regions), 3 children with TC (6 temporal regions), and a control group of 19 children (38 temporal regions). We also quantified the same measurements in a localized "core" sample in the area of greatest thickness, providing a more consistent sample of the tissue position. Relationships between the temporal muscle and fat pad values and craniofacial abnormality type were assessed using Wilcoxon nonparametric test using exact distribution, with a P value of less than 0.05 being deemed significant.
Results: The mean age of our patients was 6.0 years in PR and 4.5 years in TC cohorts. We were able to establish an automated methodology to quantify the temporalis muscle and temporal fat pad based on CT characteristics. Localized temporalis volume and localized temporalis area were significantly smaller in children with PR than in the control group. Total temporalis fat volume and localized temporalis area were significantly less in children with TC than in the control group. When compared to each other, the PR group had small morphomic values compared to TC group.
Conclusions: There are significant morphomic differences in the temporalis muscle and the temporal fat pad in children with either PR or TC when compared to age-matched control group which can be measured from pre-existing CT scans. Specifically, both of these test groups show decreases in the morphomic measures of the temporalis region. The quantification of these changes corroborates and objectifies the clinical findings associated with these congenital deformities while simultaneously allowing for preoperative planning. Furthermore, this finding confirms that the hypoplasia seen in these patient populations is not only hypoplasia of the mandible but also of the surrounding functional matrix, which includes the temporalis muscle and temporal fat pad.