Investigation of the Influences of Biomechanical Force on the Ultrastructure of Human Sagittal Craniosynostosis

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Abstract

This study presents comparisons of the ultrastructure of synostotic and open portions of synostotic sagittal sutures using histomorphometry, scanning electron microscopy, and microcomputed tomography. By using stereologic and histomorphometric analysis, this study proposes to demonstrate evidence of the influence of biomechanical force on the suture during the process of sagittal craniosynostosis. Finally, we propose to link the pathologic changes transforming normal suture fusion to craniosynostosis with concurrent changes in the polarity of suture fusion initiation.

Seven infants (four boys and three girls) with sagittal craniosynostosis, ranging in age from 1.4 to 4.8 months (mean = 3.0 months), underwent sagittal synostectomies. The synostotic bone specimens were sectioned into three regions: an open suture, partial synostosis, and complete synostosis. Microcomputed tomographic and scanning electron microscopic scanning as well as histomorphometry was performed on all specimens to obtain detailed qualitative and quantitative information regarding the trabecular microarchitecture of the synostosed suture.

Microcomputed tomographic analysis determined the bone volume fraction, trabecular thickness, trabecular separation, bone surface to bone volume ratio, and anisotropy for all specimens. Our results showed significant differences in all of these quantitative measurements when comparing the complete synostotic suture with the open portion of the synostotic sutures (p < 0.05). Microcomputed tomographic stereologic analysis showed evidence of the influence of biomechanical force on the synostotic and open portions of the synostotic sutures. Results of scanning electron microscopy show a definite qualitative difference in the trabecular pattern of the partial and complete synostotic suture when compared with the open portion of the synostotic sagittal suture.

In this study, we performed both qualitative and quantitative comparisons of the ultrastructure of the complete synostotic and nonsynostotic sagittal sutures using stereologic and histomorphometric techniques. We also demonstrated evidence of the influence of biomechanical force on the synostotic sagittal suture. Finally, we established a link between the pathologic changes transforming normal suture fusion to craniosynostosis and concurrent changes in both the vector and direction of suture fusion initiation. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 102: 1385, 1998.)

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