Quantitative use of photography in orthognathic outcome assessment

Edler, R.J., Wertheim, D., Greenhill, D. and Jaisinghani, A. (2011) Quantitative use of photography in orthognathic outcome assessment. British Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, 49(2), pp. 121-126. ISSN (print) 0266-4356


This study reports an independent audit of two aspects of orthognathic surgery, namely control of inter-alar width and mandibular outline asymmetry. Measurements were taken from standardized photographs of a consecutive series of 27 patients, using an on-screen digitizing program (IPTool). All patients had undergone bimaxillary osteotomies involving maxillary impaction and/or advancement, by one surgeon, using a cinch suture for nasal width control. Nine-twelve months after surgery, inter-alar width had increased by just 0.08 cm mean (SD 0.3). Four patients showed an increase of just over 2mm, whilst six showed a small reduction. Based on ratios of size (area) and shape (compactness) of the right and left mandibular segments, there was a small overall improvement in mandibular symmetry (0.019 and 0.005 respectively). Whilst in most of the patients the need for surgery was primarily the correction of antero-posterior and vertical discrepancies, five patients with demonstrable asymmetry showed a clear improvement. In three patients whose asymmetry scores were very mild pre-treatment, there was a small, measured increase in asymmetry, but not to a degree that would be clinically noticeable. At a time when 3D imaging is still unavailable to many clinicians, the results of this study suggest that appropriate measurements taken from carefully standardized conventional photographs can provide a valid and objective means of assessing treatment outcome.

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