BACKGROUND: Bioabsorbable systems have been commonly used in pediatric patients for primary cranioplasty and other related surgeries. However, subcutaneous swelling, a unique complication related to bioabsorbable osteosynthesis, is a concern. Differences in the incidence of subcutaneous swelling, depending on the bioabsorbable material used to construct the plate, are still unknown. METHODS: The authors retrospectively reviewed all incidences of subcutaneous swelling related to resorbable systems used during primary cranioplasty for patients with craniosynostosis at their hospital between 2014 and 2018 during a 12-month follow-up period. Furthermore, the authors reviewed all published English-language articles (since 1995) on subcutaneous swelling in bioabsorbable systems used for craniosynostosis. RESULTS: The most common resorbable systems used in the literature were divided into 2 groups: mixtures of poly D-lactic acid and polyglycolic acid, and mixtures of poly D- and L-lactic acid. In patients for whom poly D-lactic acid and polyglycolic acid were used, the incidence of subcutaneous swelling during resorption was 0% to 4.2% between 3 and 9 months of follow-up. In patients for whom poly D- and L-lactic acid was used, subcutaneous swelling during resorption occurred in 5% to 16.7% of these patients between 6 and 12 months of follow-up. All cases resolved spontaneously after complete absorption of the plate. CONCLUSIONS: It was difficult to determine which system had the lowest incidence of subcutaneous swelling. The thickness of each resorbable system and the thickness of the infants' scalps were different in each study. However, subcutaneous swelling occurred in every resorbable system. Therefore, preoperative counseling and careful follow-up are necessary.
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