Morphological interaction between the nasal septum and nasofacial skeleton during human ontogeny

Matthew J. Goergen, Nathan E. Holton, Thorsten Grünheid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The nasal septal cartilage is thought to be a key growth center that contributes to nasofacial skeletal development. Despite the developmental influence of the nasal septum however, humans often exhibit a high frequency of septal deviation suggesting discordance in the growth between the septum and surrounding nasofacial skeleton. While there are numerous etiological factors that contribute to septal deviation, the surrounding nasofacial skeleton may also act to constrain the septum, resulting in altered patterns of growth. That is, while the nasal septum has a direct morphogenetic influence on aspects of the nasofacial skeleton, other nasofacial skeletal components may restrict septal growth resulting in deviation. Detailing the developmental relationship between these structures is important not only for understanding the causal determinants of nasal septal deviation, but also for developing a broader understanding of the complex interaction between the facial skeleton and chondrocranium. We selected 66 non-syndromic subjects from the University of Minnesota Orthodontic Clinic who ranged from 7 to 18 years in age and had an existing pretreatment cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) scan. Using CBCT data, we examined the developmental relationship between nasal septal deviation and the surrounding nasofacial skeleton. We measured septal deviation as a percentage of septal volume relative to a modeled non-deviated septum. We then collected a series of coordinate landmark data in the region immediately surrounding the nasal septum in the midsagittal plane representing the nasofacial skeleton. First, we examined ontogenetic changes in the magnitude of nasal septal deviation relative to chronological age and nasofacial size. Next, using Procrustes-based geometric morphometric techniques, we assessed the morphological relationship between nasal septal deviation and nasofacial skeletal shape. Our results indicate that variation in the magnitude of nasal septal deviation was established in our earliest age group and maintained throughout ontogeny. Moreover, nasal septal deviation was correlated with non-allometric variation in nasofacial shape restricted to the region of the anterior sphenoid body. Ultimately, our results suggest that early developmental variation in midline basicranial components may act to alter or constrain patterns of nasal septal growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)689-700
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Anatomy
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Anatomical Society


  • chondrocranium
  • craniofacial
  • growth and development
  • nasal cavity


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