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Childs Nerv Syst. 1988 Aug;4(4):223-30.

Sagittal synostosis--its clinical significance and the results of three different methods of craniectomy.

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  • 1Department of Pediatric Surgery, University Children's Hospital, Berne, Switzerland.


From 1973 to 1986, 50 infants with sagittal synostosis have been operated by three different methods of craniectomy (linear craniectomy and extended craniectomies, as proposed by Schut and Epstein et al.). Preoperatively, the mean cephalic index was 67 +/- 4, 35.5% had clinical findings as cerebral palsy, psychomotor retardation and/or neurological signs, and intraoperatively the epidural pressure was more than 200 mm H2O in 60% (recorded in the last 20 patients). The mean follow-up time was 4.7 (1-10.6) years. Postoperatively, only 14.5% had minor clinical signs, which were mostly not in relation to the former scaphocephaly. Half of the patients with increased ICP had clinical signs preoperatively, and none of the 20 patients had distinct findings postoperatively. Out of the 20 children operated on by linear craniectomy or by Schut's method up to 1980, two-thirds had no school problems and one-third some school problems; one-third had occasionally headaches and one-quarter ametropia. Concerning the aesthetic results, Epstein's method and, somewhat less Schut's method, were superior to linear craniectomy, as verified by craniometry and by the tracings of the outlines of the neurocranium 0.4-0.7 and 1.6-2.0 years postoperatively: mean cephalic indices 73 +/- 5 (normal in one-fourth), 74 +/- 7 (normal in half) and 79 +/- 4 (normal in nearly all patients). Epstein's method is superior to the other two methods because it renders it possible to increase the breadth the greatest during the period of greatest postnatal brain growth. In addition to the effect on the neurocranium, the extended craniectomies add to normalization of the base of the skull (in contrast to the natural history of scaphocephaly). In the long run, the results obtained remain the same. The disadvantage of residual skull defects (approximately 11% of the patients with extended craniectomies) can be avoided by performing surgery prior to 4-6 months of age or by preserving the removed bone in a deep-freeze for a limited time.

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