Assessment of Head Shape by Craniofacial Teams: Structuring Practice Parameters to Optimize Efficiency

Chad A. Purnell, Alexandra W. Benz, Arun K. Gosain*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Introduction: Since the initiation of the "Back to Sleep Campaign" by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 1992, the incidence of referrals for positional plagiocephaly has increased by 600%. Although patients with positional plagiocephaly rarely require operative intervention, they often do require treatment with cranial molding helmets or positioning changes. The increased volume of patients makes the task of separating cases of craniosynostosis from positional head shape problems more difficult. The authors sought to determine how providers are handling this increased workload of head shape abnormality patients, especially with respect to the largest practices. Materials and Methods: An electronic survey was created and distributed to members of the American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons and the American Cleft Palate Association (ACPA). Practices were categorized by head shape patient volume as low (>4 new patients/month), medium (5-20 new patients/month), and high (>21 new patients/month). A Pearson's x2 test was used to determine characteristics that differed significantly with practice volume. Results: Response rate was 6.6%, with 88 responses. Regarding head shape evaluation, 17.6%of practices used a laser scanner (portable or stationary), 35.3% used caliper anthropometric measurements, 28.5% used two-dimensional digital photography, and 9.4% used three-dimensional digital photography. In high-volume centers, 80% had a dedicated head shape clinic (P>0.0005), 33.3% used a stationary laser scanner (P=0.023), and 53.3% used a licensed independent provider (LIP) such as a nurse practitioner or physician assistant in the initial evaluation of head shape abnormalities (P=0.032). Although using a multidisciplinary clinic was not a significant difference amongst groups, the most common additional provider in multidisciplinary clinic was orthotics (68%). Conclusions: High-volume practices are significantly more likely to use LIPs, stationary laser scanners, and plain films, as well as organizing head shape abnormality patients into a dedicated clinic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1808-1811
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Craniofacial Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015


  • Abnormal head shape
  • Craniosynostosis
  • Deformational plagiocephaly
  • Practice management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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