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Endoscopic strip craniectomy with molding helmet therapy versus spring-assisted cranioplasty for nonsyndromic single-suture sagittal craniosynostosis: a systematic review

Alexandra Valetopoulou, Maria Constantinides, Simon Eccles, Juling Ong, Richard Hayward, David Dunaway, Noor ul Owase Jeelani, Greg James, and Adikarige Haritha Dulanka Silva


Endoscopic strip craniectomy with postoperative molding helmet therapy (ESC-H) and spring-assisted cranioplasty (SAC) are commonly used minimally invasive techniques for correction of nonsyndromic sagittal craniosynostosis, but it is unclear which, if either, is superior. Therefore, the authors undertook a systematic review to compare ESC-H with SAC for the surgical management of nonsyndromic single-suture sagittal craniosynostosis.


Studies were identified through a systematic and comprehensive search of four databases (Embase, MEDLINE, and two databases in the Cochrane Library). Databases were searched from inception until February 19, 2021. Pediatric patients undergoing either ESC-H or SAC for the management of nonsyndromic single-suture sagittal craniosynostosis were included. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses, single-patient case reports, mixed cohorts of nonsyndromic and syndromic patients, mixed cohorts of different craniosynostosis types, and studies in which no outcomes of interest were reported were excluded. Outcomes of interest included reoperations, blood transfusion, complications, postoperative intensive care unit (ICU) admission, operative time, estimated blood loss, length of hospital stay, and cephalic index. Pooled summary cohort characteristics were calculated for each outcome of interest. Methodological quality was assessed using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale. The study was reported in accordance with the 2020 PRISMA statement.


Twenty-two studies were eligible for inclusion in the review, including 1094 patients, of whom 605 (55.3%) underwent ESC-H and 489 (44.7%) underwent SAC for nonsyndromic sagittal craniosynostosis. There was no difference between the pooled estimates of the ESC-H and SAC groups for operative time, length of stay, estimated blood loss, and cephalic index. There was no difference between the groups for reoperation rate and complication rate. However, ESC-H was associated with a higher blood transfusion rate and higher postoperative ICU admission.


The available literature does not demonstrate superiority of either ESC-H or SAC, and outcomes are broadly similar for the treatment of nonsyndromic sagittal craniosynostosis. However, the evidence is limited by single-center retrospective studies with low methodological quality. There is a need for international multicenter randomized controlled trials comparing both techniques to gain definitive and generalizable data.