Subjective perception of craniofacial growth asymmetries in patients with deformational plagiocephaly

Objectives: The present investigation aimed to evaluate the subjective perception of deformational cranial asymmetries by different observer groups and to compare these subjective perceptions with objective parameters. - Materials and methods: The 3D datasets of ten infants with different severities of deformational plagiocephaly (DP) were presented to 203 observers, who had been subdivided into five different groups (specialists, pediatricians, medical doctors (not pediatricians), parents of infants with DP, and laypersons). The observers rated their subjective perception of the infants' cranial asymmetries using a 4-point Likert-type scale. The ratings from the observer groups were compared with one another using a multilevel modelling linear regression analysis and were correlated with four commonly used parameters to objectively quantify the cranial asymmetries. - Results: No significant differences were found between the ratings of the specialists and those of the parents of infants with DP, but both groups provided significantly more asymmetric ratings than did pediatricians, medical doctors, or laypersons. Moreover, the subjective perception of cranial asymmetries correlated significantly with commonly used parameters for objectively quantifying cranial asymmetries. - Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that different observer groups perceive the severity of cranial asymmetries differently. Pediatricians' more moderate perception of cranial asymmetries may reduce the likelihood of parents to seek therapeutic interventions for their infants. Moreover, we identified some objective symmetry-related parameters that correlated strongly with the observers' subjective perceptions. - Clinical relevance: Knowledge about these findings is important for clinicians when educating parents of infants with DP about the deformity.


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