Introducing a new method for classifying skull shape abnormalities related to craniosynostosis

Eur J Pediatr. 2020 Oct;179(10):1569-1577. doi: 10.1007/s00431-020-03643-2. Epub 2020 Apr 17.


We present a novel technique for classification of skull deformities due to most common craniosynostosis. We included 5 children of every group of the common craniosynostoses (scaphocephaly, brachycephaly, trigonocephaly, and right- and left-sided anterior plagiocephaly) and additionally 5 controls. Our outline-based classification method is described, using the software programs OsiriX, MeVisLab, and Matlab. These programs were used to identify chosen landmarks (porion and exocanthion), create a base plane and a plane at 4 cm, segment outlines, and plot resulting graphs. We measured repeatability and reproducibility, and mean curves of groups were analyzed. All raters achieved excellent intraclass correlation scores (0.994-1.000) and interclass correlation scores (0.989-1.000) for identifying the external landmarks. Controls, scaphocephaly, trigonocephaly, and brachycephaly all have the peak of the forehead in the middle of the curve (180°). In contrary, in anterior plagiocephaly, the peak is shifted (to the left of graph in right-sided and vice versa). Additionally, controls, scaphocephaly, and trigonocephaly have a high peak of the forehead; scaphocephaly has the lowest troughs; in brachycephaly, the width/frontal peak ratio has the highest value with a low frontal peak.Conclusion: We introduced a preliminary study showing an objective and reproducible methodology using CT scans for the analysis of craniosynostosis and potential application of our method to 3D photogrammetry. What is Known: • Diagnosis of craniosynostosis is relatively simple; however, classification of craniosynostosis is difficult and current techniques are not widely applicable. What is New: • We introduce a novel technique for classification of skull deformities due to craniosynostosis, an objective and reproducible methodology using CT scans resulting in characteristic curves. The method is applicable to all 3D-surface rendering techniques. • Using external landmarks and curve analysis, specific and characteristic curves for every type of craniosynostosis related to the specific skull deformities are found.

Keywords: Computer tomography; Computer-assisted diagnosis; Craniosynostosis; Reliability; Shape analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Craniosynostoses* / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design
  • Skull / diagnostic imaging
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed