For the assessment of the nasolabial appearance in cleft patients, a widely accepted, reliable scoring system is not available. In this study four different methods of assessment are compared, including 2D and 3D asymmetry and aesthetic assessments.
The data and ratings from an earlier study using the Asher-McDade aesthetic index on 3D photographs and the outcomes of 3D facial distance mapping were compared to a 2D aesthetic assessment, the Cleft Aesthetic Rating Scale, and to SymNose, a computerized 2D asymmetry assessment technique. The reliability and correlation between the four assessment techniques were tested using a sample of 79 patients.
The 3D asymmetry assessment had the highest reliability and could be performed by just one observer (Intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC): 0.99). The 2D asymmetry assessment of the nose was highly reliable when performed by just one observer (ICC: 0.89). However, for the 2D asymmetry assessment of the lip more observers were needed. For the 2D aesthetic assessments 3 observers were needed. The 3D aesthetic assessment had the lowest single-observer reliability (ICC: 0.38-0.56) of all four techniques. The agreement between the different assessment methods is poor to very poor. The highest correlation (R: 0.48) was found between 2D and 3D aesthetic assessments. Remarkably, the lowest correlations were found between 2D and 3D asymmetry assessments (0.08-0.17).
Different assessment methods are not in agreement and seem to measure different nasolabial aspects. More research is needed to establish exactly what each assessment technique measures and which measurements or outcomes are relevant for the patients.