Comparative study of normal, Crouzon, and Apert craniofacial morphology using finite element scaling analysis



Finite element scaling analysis is used to study differences in morphology between the craniofacial complex of normal individuals and those affected with the syndromes of Apert and Crouzon. Finite element scaling quantifies the differences in shape and size between forms without reference to any fixed, arbitrary registration point or orientation line and measures the amount of form change required to deform one object into another. Two dimensional coordinates of landmarks digitized from annual sets of cephalo-metric radiographs were used in the analysis. A simple tabulation shows no difference in variances between the normal and pathological samples. A test of mean differences depicts the Apert and Crouzon morphologies as significantly different from normal. The Apert palate differs from normal in shape in the older age groups analyzed, and palatal size differences are most common at the posterior nasal spine. The Apert pituitary fossa and basi-occiput are significantly larger than normal. The Crouzon pituitary fossa is also larger than normal, but the difference is not always significant. The typical morphology of the Crouzon nose is due more to differences in shape than size. The Crouzon basi-occiput is significantly smaller than normal. An age association of the differences between the normal and pathological craniofacies was found in Apert syndrome but not in Crouzon syndrome. Apert syndrome is characterized by a more homogeneous pattern of craniofacial dysmorphology from 6 months to 18 years of age than Crouzon syndrome.