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Crit Rev Oral Biol Med. 1998;9(2):224-44.


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Department of Orthodontics, School of Dentistry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.


Neuro-osteology stresses the biological connection during development between nerve and hard tissues. It is a perspective that has developed since associations were first described between pre-natal peripheral nerve tissue and initial osseous bone formation in the craniofacial skeleton (Kjaer, 1990a). In this review, the normal connection between the central nervous system and the axial skeleton and between the peripheral nervous system and jaw formation are first discussed. The early central nervous system (the neural tube) and the axial skeleton from the lumbosacral region to the sella turcica forms a unit, since both types of tissue are developmentally dependent upon the notochord. In different neurological disorders, the axial skeleton, including the pituitary gland, is malformed in different ways along the original course of the notochord. Anterior to the pituitary gland/sella turcica region, the craniofacial skeleton develops from prechordal cartilage, invading mesoderm and neural crest cells. Also, abnormal development in the craniofacial region, such as tooth agenesis, is analyzed neuro-osteologically. Results from pre-natal investigations provide information on the post-natal diagnosis of children with congenital developmental disorders in the central nervous system. Examples of these are myelomeningocele and holoprosencephaly. Three steps are important in clinical neuro-osteology: (1) clinical definition of the region of an osseous or dental malformation, (2) embryological determination of the origin of that region and recollection of which neurological structure has developed from the same region, and (3) clinical diagnosis of this neurological structure. If neurological malformation is the first symptom, step 2 results in the determination of the osseous region involved, which in step 3 is analyzed clinically. The relevance of future neuro-osteological diagnostics is emphasized.

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