Perception of children’s faces with unilateral coronal synostosis—an eye-tracking investigation

Abstract

Purpose

Premature unilateral coronal craniosynostosis results in distinctive cranial and facial abnormalities of varying severity, including orbital dystopia and an abnormal head shape. As the face is affected, these children may encounter stigmatization. To avoid this scenario, many parents elect for their child to undergo surgical correction. Laypeople’s perception of children with either untreated or treated unilateral coronal craniosynostosis (UCS) has not yet been objectively evaluated.

Methods

This study introduces eye tracking as an objective instrument in order to evaluate the perception of 14 children with coronal synostosis, both pre- and postoperatively. Age-matched healthy children served as a control group. Using standardized photos, the involuntary eye movements and the fixations of 30 unaffected laypeople were evaluated.

Results

In the untreated children, whose faces were characterized by striking orbital dystopia, the eyes drew more attention than those of the healthy children. The results of our study demonstrate that the operative correction of unilateral coronal synostosis results in the normalization of the asymmetry of the fronto-orbital region, whereas the C-shaped deformity of the midface, which is not addressed via surgery, subsequently attracts more attention.

Conclusion

Eye tracking objectively evaluates both the perception of craniofacial abnormalities and the extent of the approximation of normality after surgical correction. We introduce eye tracking as an objective measurement tool for craniofacial abnormalities for the first time.

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No funding was secured for this study.

Financial disclosure

The authors have no financial relationships relevant to this article to disclose.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing of interest.

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Correspondence to Christian Linz.

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Linz, C., Gerdes, A.B.M., Meyer-Marcotty, P. et al. Perception of children’s faces with unilateral coronal synostosis—an eye-tracking investigation. Childs Nerv Syst 32, 135–141 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00381-015-2798-z

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Keywords

  • Coronal synostosis
  • Perception
  • Eyetracking
  • Surgical correction
  • Anterior plagiocephaly