Cephalometry in adults and children with neurofibromatosis type 1: Implications for the pathogenesis of sphenoid wing dysplasia and the “NF1 facies” Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is a common, autosomal dominant tumor-predisposition disorder that arises secondary to mutations in the tumor suppressor gene NF1. Cephalometry is an inexpensive, readily available and non-invasive technique that is under-utilized in studying the NF1 craniofacial phenotype. An analysis of NF1 cephalometry was first published by Heervä et al. in 2011. We expand here on that first investigation with a larger cohort of adult and pediatric patients affected with NF1 and sought objective insight into the NF1 facies, said to feature hypertelorism and a broad nasal base, from cephalometric analysis. METHODS: We obtained cephalograms from 101 patients with NF1 (78 adults and 23 children) from two NF1 protocols at the National Institutes of Health. Each subject had an age-, gender- and ethnicity-matched control. We used Dolphin software to make the cephalometric measurements. We assessed the normality of differences between paired samples using the Shapiro-Wilk test and evaluated the significance of mean differences using paired t-tests and adjusted for multiple testing. We explored the relationship between the cephalometric measurements and height, head circumference and interpupillary distance. RESULTS: In this dataset of American whites with NF1, we confirmed in a modestly larger sample many of the findings found by Heerva et al. in an NF1 Finnish cohort. We found a shorter maxilla, mandible, cranial base, (especially anteriorly, p = 0.0001) and diminished facial height in adults, but not children, with NF1. Only one adult exhibited hypertelorism. CONCLUSIONS: The cephalometric differences in adults arise in part from cranial base shortening and thus result in a shorter face, mid-face hypoplasia, reduced facial projection, smaller jaw, and increased braincase globularity. In addition, we suggest that NF1 sphenoid bone shortening, a common event, is consistent with an intrinsic NF1 bone cell defect, which renders the bone more vulnerable to a random "second hit" in NF1, leading to sphenoid wing dysplasia, a rare event.


  • Cung, Winnie
  • Friedman, Laura A
  • Khan, Nicholas E
  • Romberg, Elaine
  • Gardner, Pamela J
  • Bassim, Carol Walker
  • Baldwin, Andrea M
  • Widemann, Brigitte C
  • Stewart, Douglas R

publication date

  • November 2015