Authors: Stephen A. Schendel, MD, DDS, FACS, Richard Jacobson, DMD, MS, Sadri Khalessi, MS, PhD
Source: Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Volume 70, Issue 9, September 2012, Pages 2174–2183, September 2012
Purpose: The present study was undertaken to investigate the changes in the normal upper airway during growth and development using 3-dimensional computer analysis from cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) data to provide a normative reference.
Methods: The airway size and respiratory mode are known to have a relationship to facial morphology and the development of a malocclusion. The use of CBCT, 3-dimensional imaging, and automated computer analysis in treatment planning allows the upper airway to be precisely evaluated. In the present study, we evaluated the growth of the airway using 3-dimensional analysis and CBCT data from age 6 through old age, in 1300 normal individuals.
Results: The airway size and length increase until age 20 at which time a variable period of stability occurs. Next, the airway at first decreases slowly in size and then, after age 40, more rapidly. Normative data are provided in the present study for age groups from 6 to 60 years in relation to the airway total volume, smallest cross-sectional area and vertical length of the airway.
Conclusions: This 3-dimensional data of the upper airway will provide a normative reference as an aid in the early understanding of respiration and dentofacial anatomy, which will help in early treatment planning.