Despite advances in surgical treatments and assessments of objective outcomes in surgery for sagittal synostosis, there is no agreement regarding the optimal assessment of postoperative outcomes. Additionally, few studies have evaluated subjective assessments of cranial morphology after surgical correction. This study sought to evaluate the utility of subjective aesthetic outcome assessment and compare these assessments to established craniometric outcomes in patients undergoing surgery for isolated sagittal synostosis.
Nineteen raters (5 parents, 4 surgeons, 5 trainees and 5 nurses) evaluated fifty patients who underwent surgical correction of isolated sagittal synostosis using standardized postoperative patient photos and a five-point Likert scale. Previously established anthropomorphic measurements were recorded postoperatively in these same patients and comparisons were made between the objective anthropomorphic and subjective outcome evaluations.
There were no statistically significant correlations between age-controlled cephalic index, head circumference, or euryon-euryon diameter and subjective aesthetic scores. Lay persons assigned a significantly lower proportion of scores (37.9%) as middle values (2, 3, or 4) compared with faculty (64.8%). There was a statistically significant association between high scores given by surgical faculty and laypersons (P < 0.001).
Subjective measurement of cosmetic outcome is a useful metric in surgical correction of craniosynostosis. Although no correlations were found between objective measurements and subjective aesthetic scores, cosmetic assessments by surgeons demonstrated strong correlation with lay perception, indicating that these ratings may be a good gauge of overall cosmetic outcome. When used in combination, objective and subjective measurements provide unique value to assess outcomes after surgery for craniosynostosis.