Spring-assisted cranioplasty (SAS) has been used for the treatment of selected cases of sagittal synostosis at our unit routinely since 1998. In order to assess the long-term outcomes of this procedure, we compared the clinical data and morbidity with the pi-plasty technique, our previous standard procedure for the treatment of such children.
The first 20 consecutive patients who underwent SAS for isolated sagittal synostosis with complete records, and who were 3 years old at the time of this study, were included. Twenty patients with a pi-plasty performed in the period immediately preceding the spring group acted as a control group. Cephalograms (preoperative, 1-year and 3-year), clinical examination, medical record data, medical photography, and a questionnaire (spring-group only) were used to evaluate and compare these two groups.
The mean age of the spring group was 3.5 months (2.5-5.5) and the pi-plasty group 7.1 months (4-15.5) of age at surgery. There were no deaths in either group. There was a higher rate of complications in the pi-plasty group. The skull morphology was similar preoperatively in both groups but slightly different at the 3-year follow-up. The mean cephalic index (CI) in the spring group was 72 at 1 year of age and 71 at 3 years of age, indicating a minor relapse. The pi-plasty group had a mean CI of 73 at 3 years of age. The length was the same in both groups however the pi-plasty group had a lower height (mean 2 mm) and wider biparietal distance (mean 5 mm). All parents of the spring group were highly satisfied with the aesthetic results achieved, would undergo the operation again, and would recommend it to others with scaphocephaly.
It was concluded that the two groups of surgery resulted in a quite similar morphologic outcome. The pi-plasty group had a cephalic index marginally closer to the normal range at 3 years of age. The spring group was superior with respect to blood loss, transfusion requirements, operative time, ICU time, recovery time, and total hospital stay.