Child's Nervous System

, Volume 24, Issue 12, pp 1421–1430 | Cite as

Complications in the surgical treatment of craniosynostosis and craniofacial syndromes: apropos of 306 transcranial procedures

  • Javier Esparza
  • José HinojosaEmail author
Original Paper



To review the complications in the surgical treatment of craniosynostosis in 306 consecutive transcranial procedures between June 1999 and June 2007.

Patients and methods

Surgical series consist of 306 procedures done in 268 patients: 155 scaphocephalies, 50 trigonocephalies, 28 anterior plagiocephalies, one occipital plagiocephaly, 20 non-syndromic multisutural synostosis and 32 craniofacial syndromes (11 Crouzon, 12 Apert, seven Pfeiffer and two Saethre–Chotzen) Complications and time of hospitalisation were reckoned. Surgical procedures were classified in 12 different types according to the technique: Type I: frontal-orbital distraction (26 cases); Type II: endoscopic assisted osteotomies in sagittal synostosis (39 cases); Type III: sagittal suturectomy and expansive osteotomies (44 cases); Type IV: same as type III, but including frontal dismantling or frontal osteotomies in scaphocephalies (59 cases); Type V: complete cranial vault remodelling (holocranial dismantling) in scaphocephalies (13 cases); Type VI: frontal-orbital remodelling without frontal-orbital bandeau in trigonocephaly (50 cases); Type VII: frontal-orbital remodelling without frontal-orbital bandeau in plagiocephaly (14 cases); Type VIII: frontal-orbital remodelling with frontal-orbital bandeau in plagiocephaly (14 cases); Type IX: Occipital advancement in posterior plagiocephaly (one case); Type X: Standard bilateral front-orbital advancement with expansive osteotomies (28 cases); Type XI: holocranial dismantling (complete cranial vault remodelling) in multisutural craniosynostosis (12 cases); Type XII: occipital and suboccipital craniectomies in multiple suture craniosynostosis (six cases).


There was no mortality and all complications resolved without permanent deficit. Mean age at surgery was 6.75 months. Most frequent complication was non-filiated postoperative hyperthermia (13.17% of the cases) followed by infection (8.10%), subcutaneous haematoma (6.08%), dural tears (5.06%) and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leakage (2.7%). Number and type of complications was higher among the group of reoperated patients (12.8% of all): 62.5% of all the series infections, 93% of all dural tears and 75% of all CSF leaks. In relation to surgical procedures, endoscopic assisted osteotomies reported the lowest rate of complications, followed by standard frontal-orbital advancement in multiple synostosis, trigonocephalies and plagiocephalies. Highest number of complications was related to complete cranial vault remodelling (holocranial dismantling) in scaphocephalies and multiple synostoses and after the use of internal osteogenic distractors. Special consideration deserves two cases of iatrogenic basal encephaloceles after combined frontal-facial distraction. Finally, we establish considerations based on the complications related to every specific technique.


Percentage and severity of complications relates to the surgical procedure and is higher among patients going for re-operation. Mean time of hospitalization is also modified by these issues.


Craniosynostosis Craniofacial surgery Complications Infections Treatment 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Servicio de Neurocirugía PediátricaHospital infantil Universitario 12 de OctubreMadridSpain
  2. 2.Servicio de Neurocirugía PediátricaHospital Infantil 12 de Octubre.MadridSpain

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