Approximately 300 to 500 infants per 1,000,000 have prematurely fused cranial sutures (craniosynostosis). Craniosynostosis can result in increased intracranial pressure and craniofacial deformities, which often require extensive and costly craniofacial surgery. Because the neurocranium and basicranium are developmentally interrelated, understanding their influence on one another is important for surgical planning. Although surgery has been found to have long-term effects on the cranial bases of craniosynostotic human beings and rabbits, the biological mechanisms behind these effects remain uncertain. Some researchers have suggested that the surgical release of synostosed sutures alters long-term growth patterns, resulting in cranial base differences between craniosynostotic individuals who undergo surgery and those who do not. Additionally, some investigators have proposed that an acute and surgically related displacement of basicranial elements may contribute to the observed differences. The current study examines acute postoperative changes in four lengths, three angles, and three triangles between cranial base landmarks in a sample of seven New Zealand white rabbits with familial nonsyndromic craniosynostosis. Results indicate that suturectomy caused no statistically significant (P < 0.05) acute length, angular, or shape differences in the cranial base. Thus, previous long-term cranial base differences found between rabbits that were operated on and those that were not were probably not caused by an acute displacement of skeletal elements as a result of surgery. These findings suggest that post-operative cranial base changes may be related more to chronically altered growth patterns than to acutely altered changes in intracranial pressure or dural tension.
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