Craniofacial procedures commonly use scalp incisions to optimize surgical access and aesthetic results. Although the use of traditional electrocautery instruments on hair-bearing tissue has been limited secondary to the width of resulting alopecia, needle-tipped electrocautery devices with decreased energy transmission have been developed. This study investigates the cosmetic effect of such instruments on scalp incisions. Twelve children undergoing craniosynostotic correction via bicoronal incisions were included. One side of the incision was completed with the cold scalpel whereas the contralateral portion was effected using the Colorado MicroDissection Needle according to optimal usage instructions. At the conclusion of the study period, precise measurements of the resultant width of alopecia were obtained from the parietal and temporal regions bilaterally, and were analyzed statistically. Also, parents completed a questionnaire concerning subjective observations of the surgical incision and its healing. The portions of the incision completed with the Colorado MicroDissection Needle demonstrated a wider area of peri-incisional alopecia (5.8 ± 1.8 mm) than that produced by the cold scalpel (3.5 ± 0.87 mm). Not only was this increased width significant statistically (P < 0.05), in addition the disparity was noted by the majority of parents (10 of 12) either on the patient questionnaire or with nonsuggestive verbal questioning. The benefit of the hemostatic incisional technique of electrocautery with even needle-tipped instruments must be weighed carefully against its cosmetic consequences.
- Craniosynostotic repair
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