Growing skull fracture stages and treatment strategy

J Neurosurg Pediatrics 9:670–675, 2012. (http://thejns.org/doi/abs/10.3171/2012.2.PEDS11538) 

A growing skull fracture (GSF) is a rare but significant late complication of skull fractures, usually occurring during infancy and early childhood. Delayed diagnosis and improper treatment could exacerbate this disease. The aim of this study was to introduce a new hypothesis about, describe the stages of, and discuss the treatment strategy for GSF.

Methods. The authors performed a retrospective review of 27 patients with GSF, who were grouped according to 3 different GSF stages.

Results. Over a period of 20 years, 27 patients with GSF (16 males and 11 females) were treated in the authors’ department. The mean follow-up period was 26.5 months. Six patients were in the prephase of GSF (Stage 1), 10 patients in the early phase (Stage 2), and 11 in the late phase (Stage 3). All patients underwent duraplasty. All 6 patients at Stage 1 and 5 patients at Stage 2 underwent craniotomy without cranioplasty. Five patients at Stage 2 and all of the patients at Stage 3 underwent cranioplasty with autologous bone and alloplastic materials, respectively. Among all patients, 5 underwent ventriculoperitoneal shunt placement. Symptoms in all patients at Stages 1 and 2 were alleviated or disappeared, and the cranial bones developed without deformity during follow-up. Among patients with Stage 3 GSF, no obvious improvement in neurological deficits was observed. Three patients underwent additional operations because of cranial deformation or infection.

Conclusions. The authors identify the stages of GSF according to a new hypothesis. They conclude that accurately diagnosing and treating GSF during Stages 1 and 2 leads to a better prognosis.