Complications Due to Cranial Distraction for Craniosynostosis

J Craniofac Surg. 2021 Jan-Feb;32(1):322-324. doi: 10.1097/SCS.0000000000007151.


Background: Complications of cranial distraction techniques can arise perioperatively. This study assessed long-term clinical outcomes following cranial distraction for craniosynostosis. We analyzed factors involved in those complications.

Methods: We retrospectively assessed outcomes from 120cases treated with cranial distraction for craniosynostosis between 1997 and 2019. Age at surgery, type of craniosynostosis, length of advancement, and complications were reviewed. We analyzed cases in which clinical characteristics and medical data appeared to increase the risk of complications.

Results: Of the 120 patients (65 males, 55 females), 79 had syndromic craniosynostosis and 41 had nonsyndromic craniosynostosis. Type of craniosynostosis was scaphocephaly in 17 patients, trigonocephaly in 4, plagiocephaly in 15, brachycephaly in 57, oxycephaly in 14, cloverleaf in 10, and others in 3. Mean age at surgery was 18.6 months (range, 3-525 months). Mean total length of advancement was 32.3 mm (range, 5.5-62.0 mm). No deaths were encountered. Complications included cerebrospinal fluid leaks in 5 patients, epidural abscess in 1, local infections in 33, device problems in 20, erosions and/or ulcers in 23 and decubitus ulcers in 8.Comparisons of complications and factors: Local infection showed no significant correlation with type of craniosynostosis, nor with the total length of advancement. Plate displacement showed significant relationships with total length of advancement, or with age at surgery (P < 0.01).

Conclusion: These results suggested that local infection occurred independent of the type of craniosynostosis. Plate displacement and ulcers appear to occur more easily among patients with longer lengths of advancement or with surgery at a younger age, due to the weakness of the cranial bones.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Craniosynostoses* / surgery
  • Facial Bones
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Osteogenesis, Distraction* / adverse effects
  • Plagiocephaly*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skull
  • Young Adult