Three-dimensional cone beam computed tomography definition of the anatomical subregions of the upper airway: a validation study
SourceInternational Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, 42, 9, (2013), pp. 1140-1149
Article / Letter to editor
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Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
International Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
SubjectNCEBP 2: Evaluation of complex medical interventions ONCOL 3: Translational research
The exact boundaries of the upper airway subregions remain undefined. Consequently, anatomical limits vary greatly among different research groups and impede unbiased comparisons. The aim of this study was to provide clinical three-dimensional anatomical limits for the upper airway subregions, translate them into accurate and reliable cephalometric landmarks in cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) data, and validate the proposed measuring protocol. The upper airway of 40 normative individuals aged 23-35 years was evaluated with Dolphin Imaging((R)) software. An appropriate grey-scale threshold value was pre-calculated. After adapting specific head positioning and virtual orientation protocols, the volume and minimum cross-sectional area of the nasopharynx, oropharynx, and hypopharynx, as previously defined by the authors, were calculated. Intra- and inter-observer reliability was excellent for volumes and moderate for areas. The sexual dimorphism analysis revealed a significantly greater oropharyngeal volume, hypopharyngeal volume, and minimum cross-sectional oropharyngeal area in males than in females. In conclusion, the proposed subregion definition showed technical feasibility and statistical reliability, especially for three-dimensional calculations. The reliability of two-dimensional calculations may be increased with improved head positioning during CBCT scanning and subsequent virtual head orientation. Standardization of the proposed anatomical limits has the potential to homogenize upper airway subregion analysis and permit comparisons among future studies.
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