Analysis of nasal airway symmetry and pharyngeal airway following rapid maxillary expansion
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OBJECTIVES: This retrospective cohort study tested the effect of Rapid Maxillary Expansion (RME) on symmetrical volumetric changes in the nasal cavity. Volumetric changes in overall nasal cavity, nasopharynx, and oropharynx were also assessed as well as minimum cross-sectional width changes and molar angulation in association with RME. METHODS: CBCT scans of before and after RME treatment for 28 subjects (17 females, 11 males, average age 9.85 ± 2.42 years) were collected from a previously de-identified database. All subjects were treated for maxillary constriction using banded hyrax expanders. Mimics software was utilized to segment the nasal and pharyngeal airways and create various compartments (left and right nasal cavity, nasopharynx, and oropharynx) for volumetric analysis. Minimum cross-sectional width measurements and maxillary first molar angulation were also assessed. Paired T-test was used to quantify the changes brought about by expansion. Statistical significance was set at the 0.05 level. RESULTS: Posterior expansion as measured between right and left greater palatine foramen (GPF) averaged 2.41 mm (SD = 1.03 mm). There were statistically significant differences in overall nasal cavity (2249.6 ± 2102.5 mm3), right nasal cavity (968.8 ± 1082.7), left nasal cavity (1197.3 ± 1587.0), nasopharyngeal (1000.6 ± 917.7), and oropharyngeal (2349.2 ± 2520.8) volumes. In comparing the right to left nasal cavity, no significant changes were noted for initial volume, post-expansion volume, or pre to post-expansion changes (T2-T1). For cross-sectional analysis, the right nasal cavity (0.13 ± 0.07 mm) and left nasal cavity (0.11 ± 0.06 mm) showed significant increases in minimum crosssectional width measurements. Initial maxillary molar angulation had no significant correlation to initial nasal cavity volume on either side. CONCLUSIONS: RME has significant benefits to increasing nasal and pharyngeal airway cavity volumes in all segments of the airway. Nasal cavity expands symmetrically. Minimum cross-sectional width of the left and right nasal cavities showed highly symmetrical improvements. Initial maxillary molar angulation has no relationship to initial nasal cavity volume.
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