Temporal Progression of Craniofacial Dysmorphology in Unilateral Coronal Synostosis: A Mechanistic Hypothesis

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Aim:This study chronicles skull base and face development in nonsyndromic unilateral coronal synostosis (UCS) during infancy, to characterize the mechanistic progression of facial dysmorphology.Methods:Computed tomography scans from 51 subjects were reviewed (26 UCS, 25 controls) and data were reconstructed. Patients were stratified into 5 age groups. A series of measurements were taken from the reconstructions.Results:All patients had a unilaterally fused coronal suture at the time of analysis. Asymmetry of the sphenoid wings was present across all age groups. The sphenoid wing ipsilateral to the fused suture consistently had a more acute angle from the midline. At 19 days of age, ipsilateral nasal root and cribriform plate deviation are noted, as well as increased contralateral zygoma antero-posterior length. Patients younger than 2 months also had elongated posterior cranial bases. At 2 to 3 months of age, the cranial base widens in the anterior portion of the middle cranial fossa with an increased ipsilateral pterion to sella distance. The most delayed change observed was the increase in contralateral orbital rim angle at 7 to 12 months of age compared to normal.Conclusion:After suture fusion, sphenoid wing changes are among the earliest restructural malformations to take place. This suggests that the cascade of dysmorphology in UCS originates in the cranial vault, then progresses to the skull base, and lastly to the facial structures. Ipsilateral orbital changes are early facial changes in UCS that begin before 2 months of age. This is then followed by changes in the contralateral face later in development.

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