Patients presenting with head shape changes phenotypical for craniosynostosis may have incomplete fusion of the involved sutures. The surgical literature is lacking in appropriate management strategies for these patients. In this paper, the authors evaluate their experience with a novel treatment strategy: suturectomy of only the fused portion followed by helmeting therapy in patients with skull deformity secondary to incomplete suture synostosis.
Patients with craniosynostosis with incomplete suture fusion requiring operative intervention between 2018 and 2020 were included for evaluation. Patients were selected for partial suturectomy if the patent portion of the suture had a normal appearance. All patients underwent craniectomy of the involved portion of the synostosed suture. Intraoperative ultrasound was used to reassess the degree of fusion at the time of surgery and incision planning. A 2- to 3-cm strip craniectomy was performed under direct visualization through a single minimal access incision. Postoperative helmeting was utilized for all patients. Demographic and perioperative data were collected, including laser scan data in the form of cranial index (CI) and cranial vault asymmetry (CVA), defined as the difference between two diagonal measurements, from the frontozygomaticus to the opposite eurion.
Four males and 1 female with a mean age of 2.8 months (range 1.1–3.9 months) at presentation were included. All patients had incomplete sagittal synostosis (one patient also had an incomplete left lambdoid synostosis and another had an incomplete left coronal synostosis). The mean age at surgery was 3.5 months (range 2.0–4.7 months) without any major complications. All patients were compliant with postoperative helmeting. The average age at the last follow-up was 12.8 months (range 5.3–23.7 months) with a mean follow-up duration of 9.3 months (range 0.5–19.6 months). Final laser scan evaluations were available for 3 patients and showed an improvement of the CI from an average of 71.3 (range 70–73) to 84.3 (range 82–86). The CVA improved from an average of 9.67 mm (range 2–22 mm) to 1.67 mm (range 1–2 mm).
Minimally invasive direct excision of the involved portion of fused cranial sutures followed by helmet therapy for phenotypical craniosynostosis is a safe and effective treatment strategy. This technique is suitable for very young patients and appears to offer similar outcomes to complete suturectomy. Further studies are required to see if this approach reduces the deformity severity for patients requiring vault remodeling later in life.