When anthropometric methods were introduced into clinical practice to quantify changes in the craniofacial framework, features distinguishing various races/ethnic groups were discovered. To treat congenital or post-traumatic facial disfigurements in members of these groups successfully, surgeons require access to craniofacial databases based on accurate anthropometric measurements. Normative data of facial measurements are indispensable to precise determination of the degree of deviations from the normal.
The set of anthropometric measurements of the face in the population studied was gathered by an international team of scientists. Investigators in the country of the given ethnic group, experienced and/or specially trained in anthropometric methods, carried out the measurements. The normal range in each resultant database was then established, providing valuable information about major facial characteristics. Comparison of the ethnic groups' databases with the established norms of the North America whites (NAW) offered the most suitable way to select a method for successful treatment.
The study group consisted of 1470 healthy subjects (18 to 30 years), 750 males and 720 females. The largest group (780 subjects, 53.1%) came from Europe, all of them Caucasians. Three were drawn from the Middle-East (180 subjects, 12.2%), five from Asia (300 subjects, 20.4%) and four from peoples of African origin (210 subjects, 14.3%). Their morphological characteristics were determined by 14 anthropometric measurements, 10 of them used already by classic facial artists, Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Dürer, complemented by four measurements from the nasal, labio-oral and ear regions.
In the regions with single measurements, identical values to NAW in forehead height, mouth width, and ear height were found in 99.7% in both sexes, while in those with multiple measurements, vertical measurements revealed a higher frequency of identical values than horizontal ones. The orbital regions exhibited the greatest variations in identical and contrasting measurements in comparison to NAW. Nose heights and widths contrasted sharply: in relation to NAW the nose was very or extremely significantly wide in both sexes of Asian and Black ethnic groups. Among Caucasians, nose height significantly differed from NAW in three ethnic groups, with one shorter and two greater. In the Middle Eastern groups nose width was identical to those of NAW but the height was significantly greater.
The present study, conducted by investigators working separately across the world and with small samples of the population, is clearly preliminary in nature and extent. Yet it may fulfill its mission if medical and anthropological investigators continue the work of establishing normative data of the face. These data are urgently needed by medical professionals but have been lacking up till now in western and northern Europe, Asia, and Africa.