The incidence of late cephalohematoma following craniofacial surgery

Shadi Ghali, Kevin R. Knox, Sean Boutros, Charles H. Thorne, Joseph G. McCarthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Cranial vault remodeling procedures are carried out for both syndromic and nonsyndromic craniosynostosis as well as to correct some acquired deformities of the cranial vault. These procedures improve not only cosmesis but also neurological symptoms. The purpose of this study was to determine the incidence of "late" cephalohematoma, an underreported complication following these complex procedures. METHODS: A total of 113 patients underwent 127 cranial vault remodeling procedures using autogenous bone over a 6-year period. All patients who developed a late cephalohematoma 75 days or more after surgery were recorded. The time, size, and location of the cephalohematoma, the treatment performed, and the length of follow-up were also recorded. Ages at initial operation and postoperative follow-up were compared between patient groups for statistical differences. RESULTS: Of the 113 patients, 17 developed 18 late cephalohematoms. The incidence for this complication was 15 percent. The median age at operation for all patients was 10 months, and most late cephalohematomas occurred 208 days later (range, 77 to 1416 days), at 12 to 24 months of age. Fronto-orbital advancement was the most commonly performed procedure, and 83.3 percent of late cephalohematomas occurred in the frontal region. No cephalohematomas became infected or required any operative intervention, but they were aspirated. CONCLUSIONS: Surgeons should inform prospective parents of patients undergoing cranial vault remodeling procedures of this potential complication. This will improve parental awareness and possible avoidance strategies in future patients. Further evaluation and follow-up are required to determine the minimum length of postoperative time after which late cephalohematomas do not occur.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1004-1008
Number of pages5
JournalPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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