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Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop. 2006 Jun;129(6):825-8.

Hereditary cranium bifidum persisting as enlarged parietal foramina (Catlin marks) on cephalometric radiographs.

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  • 1Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, Department of Diagnostic Sciences, New Jersey Dental School, Newark, NJ 07101-1709, USA. mupparmu@umdnj.edu


Cranium bifidum occultum is a rare skull ossification disorder referred to as the Catlin mark characterized by ossification defects in the parietal bones. Evidence suggests that this condition has a strong genetic heterogenicity. It is believed that, as calvarial growth continues, ossification in parietal bones fills these defects, and they can remain as parietal foramina on either side of the sagittal suture. During the conversion phase of cranium bifidum to the persistent parietal foramen, there will be periods when the brain is unprotected because of the delay in the ossification of the parietal bones. This report describes cranium bifidum occultum diagnosed as an incidental finding in a 14-year-old boy who initially had large bilateral unossified parietal bones and many congenital abnormalities. The patient underwent various surgical procedures over 6 years for the correction of cleft lip and palate. With craniofacial corrections and orthodontic treatment, the patient now has stable dentition and a firm palate with most of the parietal bones ossified. Cranioplasty was not recommended by his family physician after consultation with a neurosurgeon. Orthodontists should be familiar with this genetic abnormality because it causes delay in parietal bone ossification, and they should be able to distinguish between anatomic parietal foramina and enlarged parietal foramina (persistent unossified areas of cranium bifidum occultum), especially when craniofacial abnormalities are noticed.

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