A retrospective review was undertaken of 126 consecutive craniofacial procedures involving a transcranial component, performed at the Children's Medical Center at Dallas, between 1990 and 1994. Standard postoperative axillary temperature measurements were recorded until discharge. Age at surgery of less than 24 months correlated very strongly with a postoperative temperature of greater than 38°C (r = -0.92). The incidence of postoperative fever was high in all age groups, yet there was still a significant difference between the group younger than 2 years and the group in which surgery was performed after the age of 2 years across all postoperative temperature ranges, from >38°C to >39.5°C (p < 0.001, chi-square test). The white blood cell count was elevated above the age-related normal in 67 percent of febrile patients. There was no correlation between type or duration of surgical procedure, length of intensive care or hospital stay, or the need for blood transfusion and the development of a significant postoperative fever. There were minor infectious complications in four patients (3 percent), only one of which was a wound problem related to the surgery. All infectious complications were easily identifiable clinically. There was no mortality or serious infections. The development of postoperative fever, and an elevated white blood cell count, is to be expected in pediatric patients undergoing craniofacial procedures. The routine laboratory investigation of postoperative fever in pediatric craniofacial patients under 2 years of age without procedures involving transgression of the paranasal sinuses is not warranted unless there are associated clinical indicators.
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