Assessment of methods used for 3-dimensional superimposition of craniofacial skeletal structures: a systematic review.

Mai, Daniel Dinh-Phuc; Stucki, Sven; Gkantidis, Nikolaos (2020). Assessment of methods used for 3-dimensional superimposition of craniofacial skeletal structures: a systematic review. PeerJ, 8(e9263), e9263. PeerJ, Ltd 10.7717/peerj.9263

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So far, several techniques have been recommended for the assessment of craniofacial changes through skeletal tissue superimposition, but the evidence that supports them remains unexplored. The purpose of the present study is to assess the available literature on skeletal-tissue superimpositions of serial craniofacial CT or CBCT images used to detect morphological changes.

Materials and Methods

Medline (via Pubmed), EMBASE, Google Scholar, Cochrane Library, Open Grey and Grey Literature Report were searched (last search: 17.11.2019) using specific terms that fulfilled the requirements of each database in the context of the study aim. Hand searches were also performed. The outcomes of interest were the accuracy, precision, or agreement between skeletal-tissue superimposition techniques to assess changes in the morphology of craniofacial structures. Studies of any design with sample size ≥3 were assessed by two authors independently. The study protocol was registered in PROSPERO (ID: CRD42019143356).


Out of 832 studies, fifteen met the eligibility criteria. From the 15 included studies, 12 have shown high total risk of bias, one low risk of bias, and two studies have shown unclear risk of bias. Thirteen out of the 15 studies showed high applicability concerns, two unclear and no study had low applicability concerns. There was high heterogeneity among studies regarding the type of participants, sample size, growth status, machines, acquisition parameters, superimposition techniques, assessment techniques and outcomes measured. Fourteen of them were performed on Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) and one on Computed Tomography (CT) derived 3D models. Most of the studies (eleven) used voxel-based registration, one landmark-based registration and three studies compared different registration techniques, which include the surface-based registration. Concerning the area of interest, nine studies focused on the anterior cranial base and certain facial structures, four on maxillary structures and four on mandibular structures. Non-growing participants were included in six studies, growing in eight, whereas one study had both.


Most of the available studies had methodological shortcomings and high applicability concerns. At the moment, certain voxel-based and surface-based superimpositions seem to work properly and to be superior to landmark-based superimposition. However, further research in the field is required to develop and properly validate these techniques on different samples, through high quality studies with low applicability concerns.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Review Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > School of Dental Medicine > Department of Orthodontics

UniBE Contributor:

Gkantidis, Nikolaos


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




PeerJ, Ltd




Renate Imhof-Etter

Date Deposited:

03 Jul 2020 16:46

Last Modified:

05 Jul 2020 02:43

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

3D imaging Computed Tomography Cone-Beam Computed Tomography Head Superimposition




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