To compare minimally invasive endoscopic and open surgical procedures, to improve informed consent of parents, and to establish a baseline for further targeted improvement of surgical care, this study evaluated the complication rate and blood transfusion rate of craniosynostosis surgery in our department.
A prospective complication registration database that contains a consecutive cohort of all pediatric neurosurgical procedures in the authors’ neurosurgical department was used. All pediatric patients who underwent neurosurgical treatment for craniosynostosis between February 2004 and December 2014 were included. In total, 187 procedures were performed, of which 121 were endoscopically assisted minimally invasive procedures (65%). Ninety-three patients were diagnosed with scaphocephaly, 50 with trigonocephaly, 26 with plagiocephaly, 3 with brachycephaly, 9 with a craniosynostosis syndrome, and 6 patients were suffering from nonsyndromic multisutural craniosynostosis.
A total of 18 complications occurred in 187 procedures (9.6%, 95% CI 6.2–15), of which 5.3% (n = 10, 95% CI 2.9–10) occurred intraoperatively and 4.2% (n = 8, 95% CI 2.2–8.2) occurred postoperatively. In the open surgical procedure group, 9 complications occurred: 6 intraoperatively and 3 postoperatively. In the endoscopically assisted procedure group, 9 complications occurred: 4 intraoperatively and 5 postoperatively. Blood transfusion was needed in 100% (n = 66) of the open surgical procedures but in only 21% (n = 26, 95% CI 15–30) of the endoscopic procedures. One patient suffered a transfusion reaction, and 6 patients suffered infections, only one of which was a surgical site infection. A dural tear was the most common intraoperative complication that occurred (n = 8), but it never led to postoperative sequelae. Intraoperative bleeding from a sagittal sinus occurred in one patient with only minimal blood loss. There were no deaths, permanent morbidity, or neurological sequelae.
Complications during craniosynostosis surgery were relatively few and minor and were without permanent sequelae in open and in minimally invasive procedures. The blood transfusion rate was significantly reduced in endoscopic procedures compared with open procedures.