Comparison of Infant Head Shape Changes in Deformational Plagiocephaly Following Treatment With a Cranial Remolding Orthosis Using a Noninvasive Laser Shape Digitizer

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2006


Deformational Plagiocephaly (DP) is a multi-planar deformity of the cranium occurring either pre-or postnatally in infants. In the last decade, the incidence of DP has increased substantially due to a number of factors, including supine sleeping positioning to reduce Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and the use of child carriers that increase supine positioning. Clinical questions persist about which children should be treated for DP and how to intervene, questions that are difficult to answer without accurate documentation of three-dimensional (3-D) head shape. This study explored a method for quantifying head shape and used that method to evaluate the success of orthotic treatment. Two hundred twenty-four infants who were diagnosed with DP received either a cranial remolding orthosis or a repositioning program with no orthotic intervention. Data from 25 head shape variables were collected using a noninvasive laser shape digitizer. Only variables attributable to growth showed significant differences in the control population, while the treatment population showed significant differences in pre-and post-treatment values for all variables. The study identified four variables as particularly important in assessing the head shape of infants with plagiocephaly: the cranial vault asymmetry index, radial symmetry index, posterior symmetry ratio, and overall symmetry ratio. Ninety-six percent or more of subjects in the treatment group showed improvement in each variable. These data document the utility of a 3-D scanning device and the effectiveness of treatment with a cranial remolding orthosis.

Journal Title

Journal of Craniofacial Surgery

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)