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Cleft Palate Craniofac J. 2009 Sep;46(5):487-93. doi: 10.1597/06-194.1. Epub 2008 Apr 11.

Ellipsoid analysis of calvarial shape.

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Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.



The purpose of this research was to develop a novel quantitative method of describing calvarial shape by using ellipsoid geometry. The pilot application of Ellipsoid Analysis was to compare calvarial form among individuals with untreated unilateral coronal synostosis, metopic synostosis, and sagittal synostosis and normal subjects.


The frontal, parietal, and occipital bones of 10 preoperative patients for each of the four study groups were bilaterally segmented into six regions using three-dimensional skull reconstructions generated by ANALYZE imaging software from high-resolution computed tomography scans. Points along each segment were extracted and manipulated using a MATLAB-based program. The points were fit to the least-squares nearest ellipsoid. Relationships between the six resultant right and left frontal, parietal, and occipital ellipsoidal centroids (FR, FL, PR, PL, OR, and OL, respectively) were tested for association with a synostotic group.


Results from the pilot study showed meaningful differences between length ratio, angular, and centroid distance relationships among synostotic groups. The most substantial difference was exhibited in the centroid distance PL-PR between patients with sagittal synostosis and metopic synostosis. The measures most commonly significant were centroid distances FL-PR and FL-PL and the angle OR-FR-PR. Derived centroid relationships were reproducible.


Ellipsoid Analysis may offer a more refined approach to quantitative analysis of cranial shape. Symmetric and asymmetric forms can be compared directly. Relevant shape information between traditional landmarks is characterized. These techniques may have wider applicability in quantifying craniofacial morphology with increase in both specificity and general applicability over current methods.

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