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Developing technologies to improve the treatment of craniosynostosis in children
Date:9/6/2011

lows bone growth between the bone pieces, allowing room for expansion of the brain. However, studies show that more than six percent of babies need a second operation to separate the bones again and 25 percent of those require a third operation.

"Following the first surgery, there's a clinical need to be able to screen children on a regular basis to predict when their skull bones are going to fuse together again so that the surgeons can determine if additional intervention will be required," said center director Barbara Boyan, the Price Gilbert, Jr. Chair in Tissue Engineering in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University and associate dean for research and innovation in the Georgia Tech College of Engineering.

To address this need, the researchers have developed a non-invasive technique to monitor bone growth with computed tomography images. They created software that identifies bone in the images, quantifies the distance between the bones, the mass of bone in the gap, and the area and volume of the gap. The research team has demonstrated the utility of this "snake" algorithm using a mouse model of cranial development and recently presented their findings at the 2011 Plastic Surgery Education Foundation conference.

"Using our snake algorithm to analyze computed tomography images of developing skulls in mice, we were able to monitor different types and speeds of bone growth on a daily basis for many weeks," said Chris Hermann, an M.D./Ph.D. student in the Coulter Department. "While one suture fused between 12 and 20 days and then significantly increased in mass for the next 20 days, another came closer together and increased in mass but remained largely open."

The research team recently adapted the technology for use in children and began a clinical study to determine the effectiveness of the algorithm to diagnose cases of craniosynostosis. The researchers hope
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Contact: Abby Robinson
abby@innovate.gatech.edu
404-385-3364
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News
Source:Eurekalert  

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