Journal Article

Thin-plate spline analysis of the cranial base in subjects with Class III malocclusion

G. D. Singh, J. A. McNamara and S. Lozanoff

in The European Journal of Orthodontics

Published on behalf of European Orthodontics Society

Volume 19, issue 4, pages 341-353
Published in print August 1997 | ISSN: 0141-5387
Published online August 1997 | e-ISSN: 1460-2210 | DOI:
Thin-plate spline analysis of the cranial base in subjects with Class III malocclusion

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The role of the cranial base in the emergence of Class III malocclusion is not fully understood. This study determines deformations that contribute to a Class III cranial base morphology, employing thin-plate spline analysis on lateral cephalographs. A total of 73 children of European-American descent aged between 5 and 11 years of age with Class III malocclusion were compared with an equivalent group of subjects with a normal, untreated, Class I molar occlusion. The cephalographs were traced, checked and subdivided into seven age- and sex-matched groups. Thirteen points on the cranial base were identified and digitized. The datasets were scaled to an equivalent size, and statistical analysis indicated significant differences between average Class I and Class III cranial base morphologies for each group. Thin-plate spline analysis indicated that both affine (uniform) and non-affine transformations contribute toward the total spline for each average cranial base morphology at each age group analysed. For non-affine transformations, Partial warps 10, 8 and 7 had high magnitudes, indicating large-scale deformations affecting Bolton point, basion, pterygo-maxillare, Ricketts' point and articulare. In contrast, high eigenvalues associated with Partial warps 1–3, indicating localized shape changes, were found at tuberculum sellae, sella, and the frontonasomaxillary suture.

It is concluded that large spatial-scale deformations affect the occipital complex of the cranial base and sphenoidal region, in combination with localized distortions at the frontonasal suture. These deformations may contribute to reduced orthocephalization or deficient flattening of the cranial base antero-posteriorly that, in turn, leads to the formation of a Class III malocclusion.

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Subjects: Restorative Dentistry and Orthodontics

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