Three-dimensional adult male head and skull contours.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major public health issue, affecting millions of people annually. Anthropomorphic test devices (ATDs) and finite element models (FEMs) provide a means of understanding factors leading to TBI, potentially reducing the occurrence. Thus, there is a need to ensure that these tools accurately model humans. For example, the Hybrid III was not based on 3-dimensional human head shape data. The objective of this study is to produce average head and skull contours for an average U.S. male that can be used for ATDs and FEMs.


Computed tomography (CT) scans of adult male heads were obtained from a database provided by the University of Virginia Center for Applied Biomechanics. An orthographic viewer was used to extract head and skull contours from the CT scans. Landmarks were measured graphically using HyperMesh (Altair, HyperWorks). To determine the head occipital condyle (OC) centroid, surface meshes of the OCs were made and the centroid of the surfaces was calculated. The Hybrid III contour was obtained using a MicroScribe Digitizer (Solution Technologies, Inc., Oella, MD). Comparisons of the average male and ATD contours were performed using 2 methods: (1) the midsagittal and midcoronal ATD contours relative to the OC centroid were compared to the corresponding 1 SD range of the average male contours; (2) the ATD sagittal contour was translated relative to the average male sagittal contour to minimize the area between the 2 contours.


Average male head and skull contours were created. Landmark measurements were made for the dorsum sellae, nasion skin, nasion bone, infraorbital foramen, and external auditory meatus, all relative to the OC centroid. The Hybrid III midsagittal contour was outside the 1 SD range for 15.2 percent of the average male head contour but only by a maximum distance of 1.5 mm, whereas the Hybrid III midcoronal head contour was outside the 1 SD range for 12.2 percent of the average male head contour by a maximum distance of 2 mm. Minimization of the area between the midsagittal contours resulted in only 2.3 mm of translation, corroborating the good correlation between the contours established by initial comparison.


Three-dimensional average male head and skull contours were created and measurements of landmark locations were made. It was found that the 50th percentile male Hybrid III corresponds well to the average male head contour and validated its 3D shape. Average adult head and skull contours and landmark data are available for public research use at .

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Lee, C; Loyd, AM; Nightingale, R; Myers, BS; Damon, A; Bass, CR

Published Date

  • January 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 15 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 402 - 406

PubMed ID

  • 24471365

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1538-957X

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1538-9588

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1080/15389588.2013.822492


  • eng