Purpose: It is easier to judge facial deformity when the patient's head is in anatomic position. The purposes of this study were to determine 1) whether a group of expert observers would agree more than a group of nonexperts on what is the correct anatomic position of the head, 2) whether there would be more variation in the alignment of an asymmetrical face compared with a symmetrical one, and 3) whether the alignments of experts would be more repeatable than those of nonexperts. Materials and Methods: Thirty-one orthodontists (experts) and 31 dental students (nonexperts) were recruited for this mixed-model study. They were shown randomly oriented 3-dimensional head photographs of an adult with a symmetrical face and an adolescent with an asymmetrical face. In viewing software, the observers oriented the images into anatomic position. They repeated the orientations 4 weeks later. Data were analyzed using a generalized linear model and Bland-Altman plots. The primary predictor variables were experience and symmetry status. The outcome variable was the anatomic position of the head. The other variables of interest included time and orientation direction. Results: There was a statistically significant difference between measurements completed by experts and nonexperts (F1,60 = 14.83; P <.01). The interaction between expertise and symmetrical status showed a statistically significant difference between symmetrical and asymmetrical faces in the expert and nonexpert groups (F1,60 = 9.93; P =.003). The interaction between expertise and time showed a statistically significant difference in measurement over time in the expert and nonexpert groups (F1,60 = 4.66; P =.03). Conclusions: The study shows that experts can set a head into anatomic position better than nonexperts. In addition, facial asymmetry has a profound effect on the ability of an observer to align a head in the correct anatomic position. Moreover, observer-guided alignment is not reproducible.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Oral Surgery