Objective Assessment of the Interfrontal Angle for Severity Grading and Operative Decision-Making in Metopic Synostosis

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2016 May;137(5):1548-1555. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000002052.


Background: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the utility of a previously validated interfrontal angle for classification of severity of metopic synostosis and as an aid to operative decision-making.

Methods: An expert panel was asked to study 30 cases ranging from minor to severe metopic synostosis. Based on computed tomographic images of the skull and clinical photographs, they classified the severity of trigonocephaly (1 = normal, 2 = mild, 3 = moderate, and 4 = severe) and management (0 = nonoperative and 1 = operative). The severity scores and management reported by experts were then pooled and matched with the interfrontal angle computed from each respective computed tomographic scan. A threshold was identified at which most experts agree on operative management.

Results: Expert severity scores were higher for more acute interfrontal angles. There was a high concordance at the extremes of classifications, severe (4) and normal (1) (p < 0.0001); however, between interfrontal angles of 114.3 and 136.1 degrees, there exists a "gray zone," with severe discordance in expert rankings. An operative threshold of 118.2 degrees was identified, with the interfrontal angle able to predict the expert panel's decision to proceed with surgery 87.6 percent of the time.

Conclusions: The interfrontal angle has been previously validated as a simple, accurate, and reproducible means for diagnosing trigonocephaly, but must be obtained from computed tomographic data. In this article, the authors demonstrate that the interfrontal angle can be used to further characterize the severity of trigonocephaly. It also correlated with expert decision-making for operative versus nonoperative management. This tool may be used as an adjunct to clinical decision-making when the decision to proceed with surgery may not be straightforward.

Clinical question/level of evidence: Diagnostic, V.

MeSH terms

  • Area Under Curve
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clinical Decision-Making*
  • Craniosynostoses / diagnostic imaging
  • Craniosynostoses / pathology*
  • Craniosynostoses / surgery
  • Delphi Technique
  • Frontal Bone / diagnostic imaging
  • Frontal Bone / pathology*
  • Frontal Bone / surgery
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • ROC Curve
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed