Distraction osteogenesis in the surgical management of syndromic craniosynostosis: a comprehensive review of published papers

Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2018 Jun;56(5):353-366. doi: 10.1016/j.bjoms.2018.03.002. Epub 2018 Apr 13.


Our aim was to summarise current published evidence about the prognosis of various techniques of craniofacial distraction osteogenesis, particularly its indications, protocols, and complications. Published papers were acquired from online sources using the keywords "distraction osteogenesis", "Le Fort III", "monobloc", and "syndromic craniosynostosis" in combination with other keywords, such as "craniofacial deformity" and "midface". The search was confined to publications in English, and we followed the guidelines of the PRISMA statement. We found that deformity of the skull resulted mainly from Crouzon syndrome. Recently craniofacial distraction has been achieved by monobloc distraction osteogenesis using an external distraction device during childhood, while Le Fort III distraction osteogenesis was used in maturity. Craniofacial distraction was indicated primarily to correct increased intracranial pressure, exorbitism, and obstructive sleep apnoea in childhood, while midface hypoplasia was the main indication in maturity. Overall the most commonly reported complications were minor inflammatory reactions around the pins, and anticlockwise rotation when using external distraction systems. The mean amount of bony advancement was 12.3mm for an external device, 18.6mm for an internal device and 18.7mm when both external and internal devices were used. Treatment by craniofacial distraction must be validated by long-term studies as there adequate data are lacking, particularly about structural relapse and the assessment of function.

Keywords: Syndromic craniosynostosis; distraction devices; distraction osteogenesis; midface; treatment strategies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Craniofacial Dysostosis / complications
  • Craniofacial Dysostosis / surgery*
  • Exophthalmos / etiology
  • Exophthalmos / surgery
  • Facial Bones / abnormalities
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Hypertension / etiology
  • Intracranial Hypertension / surgery
  • Osteogenesis, Distraction* / adverse effects
  • Osteogenesis, Distraction* / instrumentation
  • Osteogenesis, Distraction* / methods
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Reoperation
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / etiology
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome