gms | German Medical Science

57th Annual Meeting of the German Society of Neurosurgery
Joint Meeting with the Japanese Neurosurgical Society

German Society of Neurosurgery (DGNC)

11 - 14 May, Essen

Morphometric analysis of microcephalic skulls

Eine morphologische Untersuchung an mikrozephalen Schädel

Meeting Abstract

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  • corresponding author J. Weber - Department of Neurosurgery, Leopoldina Hospital Schweinfurt
  • C.M. Pusch - Department of Anthropology and Genetics, University of Tübingen

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie. Japanische Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie. 57. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie e.V. (DGNC), Joint Meeting mit der Japanischen Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie. Essen, 11.-14.05.2006. Düsseldorf, Köln: German Medical Science; 2006. DocP 04.57

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published: May 8, 2006

© 2006 Weber et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Objective: The aim of this study was to describe the natural history of microcepahlic skulls in modern humans.

Methods: We examined ten microcephalic skulls from modern humans. This is the largest study of its kind ever published. We used typical osteometric points for univariate and bivariante measurements of the skulls and skull bases. The measuring tools used were sliding caliper, spreading caliper, and osteometric boards.

Results: The skulls volumetry (measured with mustard seeds and/or endocasts) revealed a mean intracranial volume of 511 cm3 (rage from 325 –720 cm3). The age at death ranged from 12 to 42 years (mean 23 years). Most of the univariate measurements in the eight skulls with microcephaly were significantly smaller than normal modern human skulls (e.g. maximum cranial length mean 14.5 cm, range 12.4-15.2 cm, maximum cranial breath mean 11.2 cm, range 9.5-12.5 cm, skull circumference mean 38.9 cm, range 35.2- 43.0 cm). Only the length of the clivus (mean 4.3 cm, range 4.0-4.8 cm), and the cranial index were within the normal range. In three of the ten cases of microcephaly we found synostosis of the sagittal suture without scaphocephalic head shape. We found no bony signs of chronic elevated intracranial pressure in these small skulls.

Conclusions: These observations reveal that microcephalic crania have a small skull without deformity, normal medial skull base, and a large face relative to the skull size. This investigation may be of assistance in identifying microcephaly in complex craniosynostosis.