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We characterize and design multidimensional (MD) orthogonal filter banks using special paraunitary matrices and the Cayley transform. Orthogonal filter banks are represented by paraunitary matrices in the polyphase domain. We define special paraunitary matrices as paraunitary matrices with unit determinant. We show that every paraunitary matrix can be characterized by a special paraunitary matrix and a phase factor. Therefore, the design of paraunitary matrices (and thus of orthogonal filter banks) becomes the design of special paraunitary matrices, which requires a smaller set of nonlinear equations. Moreover, we provide a complete characterization of special paraunitary matrices in the Cayley domain, which converts nonlinear constraints into linear constraints. Our method greatly simplifies the design of MD orthogonal filter banks and leads to complete characterizations of such filter banks.