Resorbable PLLA-PGA plate and screw fixation in pediatric craniofacial surgery: clinical experience in 1883 patients

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2004 Sep 15;114(4):850-6; discussion 857. doi: 10.1097/01.prs.0000132856.69391.43.


The need to provide rigid bony fixation in the surgical treatment of craniofacial deformities has inspired an on-going evolution of surgical innovations and implants. Because of the young age of many treated craniosynostosis patients and the unique pattern of cranial vault growth, the extensive implantation of metal devices is potentially problematic. The use of resorbable plate and screw devices offers all of the benefits of rigid fixation without many of their potential risks. Since the introduction of resorbable plate and screw devices in 1996, tens of thousands of craniofacial patients have received implants, but long-term results from a large series have yet to be reported. A combined prospective and retrospective analysis was done on 1883 craniosynostosis patients under 2 years of age treated by 12 surgeons from seven different geographic locations over a 5-year period who used the same type of resorbable bone fixation devices (poly-L-lacticpolyglycolic copolymer). Specifically, the incidence of postoperative infection, fixation device failure, occurrence of delayed foreign-body reactions, and the need for reoperation resulting from device-related problems were determined. Technical difficulties and trends in device use were also noted. From this series, significant infectious complications occurred in 0.2 percent, device instability primarily resulting from postoperative trauma occurred in 0.3 percent, and self-limiting local foreign-body reactions occurred in 0.7 percent of the treated patients. The overall reoperation rate attributable to identifiable device-related problems was 0.3 percent. Improved bony stability was gained by using the longest plate geometries/configurations possible and bone grafting any significant gaps across plated areas that were structurally important. The specific types of plates and screws used evolved over the study period from simple plates, meshes, and threaded screws to application-specific plates and threadless push screws whose use varied among the involved surgeons. This report documents the safety and long-term value of the use of resorbable (LactoSorb) plate and screw fixation in pediatric craniofacial surgery in the infant and young child. Device-related complications requiring reoperation occurred in less than 0.5 percent of the implanted patients, which is less frequent than is reported for metallic bone fixation. Resorbable bone fixation for the rapidly growing cranial vault has fewer potential complications than the traditional use of metal plates, screws, and wires.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Absorbable Implants*
  • Biocompatible Materials* / adverse effects
  • Bone Plates*
  • Bone Screws*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Craniofacial Abnormalities / surgery*
  • Craniosynostoses / surgery*
  • Craniotomy / instrumentation
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Foreign-Body Reaction / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Lactic Acid* / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Polyglycolic Acid* / adverse effects
  • Polylactic Acid-Polyglycolic Acid Copolymer
  • Polymers* / adverse effects
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surgical Wound Infection / diagnosis*


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Polymers
  • Polylactic Acid-Polyglycolic Acid Copolymer
  • Polyglycolic Acid
  • Lactic Acid