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Ontogenetic patterns in frontal sinus shape: a longitudinal study using elliptical Fourier analysis

NCJ Number
307997
Date Published
August 2022
Length
16 pages
Annotation

This paper reports on the methodology and implications of a study which utilized a longitudinal sample of posterior-anterior frontal radiographs from the AAOF Legacy Collection, noting the relevance to forensic practitioners since understanding the age at which frontal sinus features stabilize will inform how much change may be expected between antemortem and postmortem radiographs.

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate at what age the frontal sinus attains its final shape, and whether sex-based differences in ontogeny are evident, using a longitudinal sample of posterior-anterior (PA) frontal radiographs from the AAOF Legacy Collection. Outlines were subjected to elliptical Fourier analysis (EFA) and underwent principal components analysis (PCA). Overall, younger individuals typically displayed relatively shorter, flatter sinuses, increasing in vertical complexity with age. Within individuals, Euclidean distances of PCs between each sinus outline and their oldest-age outline (i.e., final morphology) were calculated and plotted against age-in-months with Loess growth curves. The results indicated that final frontal sinus morphology is mostly attained by age 20 regardless of sex. There is sexual dimorphism in ontogenetic trajectories: females attain frontal sinus shape earlier than males. Loess growth curves of the Euclidean distances to final sinus shape indicated that female shape shows decreased development at 14 to16 years, with males approaching stabilization at 18 to 20 years. These trends were supported by paired t-tests on PC1 between each year and the oldest age, whereby significant differences end for females starting at 15 and 18 years for males. This research has several implications in diverse fields. Documenting ontogenetic patterns in modern humans could lead to more accurate interpretations of frontal sinus variation in hominin lineages. Understanding the age at which frontal sinus shape and size stabilizes in pediatric populations has important clinical implications, with future studies needed to investigate if/how sinus development directly relates to sinonasal disease susceptibility (e.g., sinusitis), surgical complications, and/or expected trauma patterns. For forensic practitioners utilizing frontal sinus comparisons for decedent identifications, it is important to know at what age these features stabilize to understand how much change may be expected between antemortem and postmortem radiographs. Publisher Abstract Provided

Date Published: August 1, 2022