The production of average ‘normative’ threedimensional (3D) computed tomography surface images of the bony skull has only recently been explored. The authors wish to determine the effect of using sex- and ethnicity-specific adult average 3D skull images for comparisons with patient images at various stages of craniofacial surgical management (i.e., diagnosis, treatment planning, prosthetic design, image-guided operative procedures, and outcomes assessment). Craniofacial surgical reconstruction for abnormal patterns of development, cancer resection, or trauma are most likely to benefit from these comparisons. To morphometrically test the significance of separating normative 3D skull data by sex and ethnicity, the authors collected 52 3D, anatomical landmarks from 3D computed tomography scans of dry skulls of 20 Americans of European ethnicity and 20 Americans of primarily African (i.e., primarily African and some European) ethnicity. A Procrustes-based morphometric analysis of shape detects 1.2 times as much interethnic variance as intersex variance. The African American sample presents 4.2% more dolichocephaly, wider orbits, flatter nasal area, larger gnathic anatomy, and more procumbent-dentition. Pooling the sexes across both groups, it is seen that men tend to have less bulbous crania, more protruding brows, noses, and masticatory muscle attachments, and relatively less protrusive palettes and anterior mandibles. Despite a small sample size (N = 40), the authors' results are statistically significant (P ~ 0.001 overall) for both of the main factors, sex and ethnicity, separately.
© 1998 Mutaz B. Habal, MD