Patients with syndromic craniosynostosis manifest midfacial hypoplasia often treated by midfacial advancement. Benefits of midfacial advancement by distraction osteogenesis have been well studied; little is known about the perioperative morbidity of these procedures, specifically relating to device selection. This study compares the perioperative complications between semiburied- and halo-type distraction osteogenesis of the midface. A retrospective review was performed on all patients with syndromic craniosynostosis who underwent midface distraction with semiburied- or halo-type external distractors. Demographic information and operative/postoperative course were reviewed. Complications were categorized as hardware-related, infectious, and either as major (requiring additional intervention) or minor (requiring medication only). Chi-squared and Fisher exact test were used to compare variables.
From 1999 to 2012, a total of 54 patients underwent midface distraction osteogenesis, including 23 patients with Apert syndrome, 19 patients with Crouzon syndrome, 10 patients with Pfeiffer syndrome, and 2 patients with other craniofacial syndromes. Thirty-three patients underwent a total of 34 subcranial Le Fort III distraction procedures and 21 underwent 21 monobloc distraction procedures. The mean age during surgery was 8.0 (range, 4.0–17.7) years, whereas the mean time between distractor placement and removal was 102.9 days. Thirty procedures were performed with external halo-type distractors (18 Le Fort III and 12 monobloc distractions), whereas 25 were performed with buried midface distractors (16 Le Fort III and 9 monobloc distractions). There were no significant differences in diagnoses or interventions between the distraction devices. Of the 19 distractor-related complications, there were a total of 10 (18.2%) in the halo group including 5 (9.1%) requiring separate operative intervention as well as 9 (16.4%) in the buried distractor group including 6 (10.1%) requiring separate operative intervention. Major infections were more common in the buried distractor group (n = 8) compared with the halo distractor group (n = 3) (P = 0.048). There were 4 (7.3%) patients in the halo group who had malposition or transcranial pin migration related to postoperative positioning or falls and required operative repositioning. Frontofacial distraction is an important technique in patients with syndromic craniosynostosis. Higher rates of halo displacement requiring surgery are offset with lower rates of infections compared with buried distractors.