Journal article

Implant-based three-dimensional superimposition of the growing mandible in a rabbit model

The reliable assessment of craniofacial morphological changes during growth requires invariant regions for image registration. As these regions have not yet been identified in three dimensions, intra-osseous implants are required as fiducial markers for the reliable assessment of three-dimensional (3D) mandibular growth changes. The objective of this study was to develop an animal model for the assessment of the 3D morphological changes of the mandible during growth, using implants as fiducial markers. Titanium implants were placed in the body of the mandible of six New Zealand White rabbits. Cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) scans were taken 1-week following implant placement and after an additional 8-weeks of growth. Segmentations of CBCT images were exported into custom-made scripts, implant centroids were identified, implant stability during growth calculated, and the segmented mandibles were registered on the implant centroids. The buccal cortical bone of the body of the mandible was stable during growth and suitable for fiducial marker placement. Bilateral implants resulted in more accurate rigid registration of the growing rabbit mandible than only unilateral implants. 3D mandibular growth changes were visualised by means of semi-transparencies. This animal model appears to be feasible for the assessment of the 3D morphological changes occurring during mandibular growth. To the best of our knowledge this is the first time that the implant superimposition method has been combined with 3D imaging to accurately reveal mandibular growth changes.


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