3-D Imaging for More Precise Diagnosis, Planning and Treatment

We use advanced technology to create detailed, 3-D images of a child’s face and skull. These images help our doctors diagnose craniofacial conditions and plan treatment and surgery.

Pinpointing How Craniofacial Conditions Affect Children

Our doctors use 3-D computed tomography (CT) scans to create 3-D images of children with craniosynostosis, craniofacial microsomia and other conditions that affect the skull and facial bones. The 3-D images let doctors see under a child’s skin, understand where bones have developed abnormally and diagnose a child’s condition with greater precision.

Making Craniofacial Surgery Faster and More Efficient

Some children with craniofacial conditions may need surgery to move their bones to a more typical position. We use 3-D images and advanced software to build precise, computerized maps of a child’s face and skull. This helps us plan where to place the bones and visualize your child’s face after surgery.

Planning ahead makes surgeries faster and more efficient because surgeons can be better prepared. This means less time under anesthesia.

Predicting How Facial Implants Will Affect Appearance

Some children need implants to help make their bones and tissue look more typical. Facial implants are artificial, bonelike structures. Doctors insert them under patients’ skin to support the face and correct its shape.

Our doctors use 3-D images to decide where to use implants and predict how they will affect a child’s appearance. In some cases, we can use 3-D images and computer-assisted design (CAD) technology to design custom implants that are made specifically for your child’s face.

Improving Craniofacial Care for Future Generations

We also use 3-D images in our research to uncover the causes of craniofacial conditions and find better ways to treat them:

  • Dr. Raymond Tse is developing a system that uses 3-D images to measure the severity of cleft lip and palate before and after surgery. This will help surgeons determine if an operation improves a patient’s condition and evaluate which techniques work best.
  • Dr. Carrie Heike and her colleagues are developing similar tools to measure how craniofacial microsomia and other conditions change facial features. This will help develop better ways to classify and assess craniofacial disorders and improve treatment outcomes.
  • Heike’s team is also taking 3-D images of thousands of volunteers who don’t have craniofacial conditions. These images are fed into a database – the Craniofacial Features Normative Database – to help researchers quantify what typical facial features look like. This research will provide a baseline that helps doctors diagnose craniofacial conditions and measure how they affect a child’s appearance.
  • Dr. Kelly Evans and her colleagues are developing the first standardized way to measure the airway in infants and very young children with Robin sequence (RS). RS is a birth defect affecting jaw growth that can cause breathing and sleep problems. Evans’ system will use 3-D images to determine the severity of a child’s problem and decide which treatment they need.
  • Dr. Timothy Cox ’s team uses our Small Animal Tomographic Analysis Facility to take 3-D images of animals in craniofacial studies. The images help researchers unravel how everything from genetics to diet work together to cause cleft lip and palate and other disorders.