Dysmorphometrics: the Modelling of Morphological Abnormalities
Authors: Peter Claes, Katleen Daniels, Mark Walters, John Clement, Dirk Vandermeulen and Paul Suetens
Source: Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling, Volume 9:5, Feb 2012.
Background: The study of typical morphological variations using quantitative, morphometric descriptors has always interested biologists in general. However, unusual examples of form, such as abnormalities are often encountered in biomedical sciences. Despite the long history of morphometrics, the means to identify and quantify such unusual form differences remains limited.
Methods: A theoretical concept, called dysmorphometrics, is introduced augmenting current geometric morphometrics with a focus on identifying and modelling form abnormalities. Dysmorphometrics applies the paradigm of detecting form differences as outliers compared to an appropriate norm. To achieve this, the likelihood formulation of landmark superimpositions is extended with outlier processes explicitly introducing a latent variable coding for abnormalities. A tractable solution to this augmented superimposition problem is obtained using Expectation-Maximization. The topography of detected abnormalities is encoded in a dysmorphogram.
Results: We demonstrate the use of dysmorphometrics to measure abrupt changes in time, asymmetry and discordancy in a set of human faces presenting with facial abnormalities.
Conclusion: The results clearly illustrate the unique power to reveal unusual form differences given only normative data with clear applications in both biomedical practice & research.