Patients undergoing cranial expansion including spring-mediated cranioplasty (SMC) and cranial vault remodeling (CVR) receive costly and high acuity post-operative intensive care (ICU) given concerns over neurologic and hemodynamic vulnerability. The authors analyzed perioperative and post-operative events for patients presenting with sagittal craniosynostosis (CS) undergoing SMC and CVR in order to compare complication profiles.
The authors performed a single center retrospective cohort study of patients undergoing SMC and CVR for the treatment of nonsyndromic, isolated sagittal CS from 2011 to 2018. Perioperative and post-operative factors were collected, focusing on hemodynamic instability and events necessitating ICU care. Mann-Whitney U and Fisher exact tests were used to compare data with significance defined as P < 0.05.
Among 106 patients, 65 (61%) underwent SMC and 41 (39%) CVR. All CVR patients received prophylactic whole blood transfusion at time of scalp incision. Acute blood loss anemia was the most common post-operative complication, prompting n = 6 (9.2%) and n = 7 (17.1%) blood transfusions in the SMC and CVR cohorts, respectively (P < 0.24). Hemodynamic instability requiring blood transfusion was rare, occurring post-operatively in n = 2 (3.1%) and n = 2 (4.9%) patients in the SMC and CVR cohorts, respectively (P < 0.64). Two patients in the CVR cohort exhibited new neurologic symptoms that self-resolved, compared to no patients in the SMC cohort (P < 0.15).
Despite differing degrees of operative invasiveness, post-operative hemodynamic and neurologic decompensation following CVR and SMC for isolated sagittal CS repair remains similarly rare. Indications necessitating post-operative intensive care are infrequent. Post-operative hemoglobin monitoring may enable early prediction for hemodynamic instability.