Titanium miniplates or stainless steel wire for cranial fixation: A prospective randomized comparison

William C. Broaddus, Kathryn L. Holloway, Charles J. Winters, M. Ross Bullock, R. Scott Graham, Bruce E. Mathern, John D. Ward, Harold F. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Object. The authors designed a study to compare low-profile titanium miniplate fixation to that in which stainless steel wire is used. Methods. Before undergoing craniotomy, 40 patients gave informed consent and were randomized to receive either wire or miniplate fixation. After dural closure, bone flap fixation was timed. The bone flap was measured for inward or outward offset and mobility to manual pressure on its margin. Three months postoperatively the bone flap margins were graded for appearance or palpation of an offset and for the presence of burr hole depressions. Twenty-four patients were randomized to receive miniplate fixation and 16 to receive stainless steel wire fixation. The time required for wire fixation was approximately 40% longer than that for miniplates (11.8 ± 5.1 minutes compared with 8.3 ± 5 minutes, p = 0.02). The offset of bone flaps after wire fixation was significantly greater than that with miniplates (1.6 ± 1 mm compared with 0.3 ± 0.6 mm, p < 0.001), as was the mobility of the bone flap on digital pressure (1.2 ± 0.9 mm compared with 0.2 ± 0.5 mm, p < 0.001). At the 3-month follow-up review, two of 12 patients had suboptimal results after wire fixation, whereas none of 14 patients had suboptimal results after miniplate fixation. When dichotomized for excellent or less-than-excellent postoperative results, the data were significantly better for patients who underwent miniplate fixation (p < 0.05). Conclusions. Titanium miniplate cranial fixation provides more accurate and rigid reapproximation of the bone edges, with results that are significantly better on close inspection or palpation. The additional cost of miniplate fixation may thus be justified in many cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)244-247
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002


  • Cranial fixation
  • Miniplate
  • Osteosynthesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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