Anthropometric analysis of maxillofacial foramina in skulls of four human populations using electronic calliper and 3D laser scanning methods
Alayan, Ibrahim Abead
This study was undertaken to identify the landmarks that would provide the most reliable and predictable indicators of the position of the supraorbital, infraorbital, mental and mandibular foramina in human skulls of Hokien, Hylam, Indian and British populations of ranging ages, which would provide clinicians with suitable modifications in technique to accommodate these variations. Measurements were taken using both electronic digital callipers and 3D laser scanning. Electronic digital calliper measurements were made to estimate how far each foramen was from specific anatomical landmarks on the skulls. An apparatus was developed to position the skulls securely so that the measurement points could be accurately identified, then an electronic digital calliper was used to measure the distance between the defined points. In addition, the same skulls were also scanned using a FastSCAN™ Polhemus Scorpion™ handheld laser scanner, and imported into 3D modelling software (FreeForm Modelling Plus™). This 3D software integrates a PHANYOM™ desktop arm and a haptic force feedback device that provides the user with a sense of touch. Accordingly, with the “Ruler” tool, the measurements between various foramina and defined anatomical landmarks were measured. Measurements made by electronic digital calliper were compared statistically with those made using the 3D scanning method, and overall there was good correlation between the two, indicating that 3D scanning could be used as an alternative method. With regard to age changes in the skulls, the ages of the Hokien and Hylam groups were known, having been recorded from death records, but the Indian and British skulls were not of known age. In a preliminary study the known age skulls were used to validate the methods of Miles (1962) and Brothwell (1981) who aged skulls using tooth wear patterns. The decision was taken to use the Brothwell chart for the assessment of age in the Indian and British skulls in the main study. For each of the four population groups, intra-population comparisons of the measurements were made between right and left sides, and between skulls of young and old individuals, also inter-population comparisons between ipsilateral measurements were made. The correlation between the obtuseness of the mandibular angle and the ipsilateral measurement from the mental foramen to the posterior border of the mandible were made on both sides of the skulls of each population group. Non-significant differences were found between the measurements on right and left sides for the skulls of all populations. There were significant differences between some ipsilateral measurements but although there were statistically significant, they were not considered to be clinically significant. There were no significant differences between ipsilateral measurements with increasing age of the skulls. Also there were weak correlations between the obtuseness of the mandibular angle and the ipsilateral measurement from the mental foramen to the posterior border of the mandible on both sides of the skulls of each population group. There were good statistically agreements between the electronic digital calliper and 3D laser scanning measurements in all groups and the two methods may be used interchangeably. However 3D scanning is a digital process and therefore the scans could be accessed remotely, either across the internet or by CD.