Cranioplasty Using a Mixture of Biologic and Nonbiologic Agents

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Abstract

Importance

A surgeon faces challenges with cranioplasty techniques to achieve a successful result with relatively few complications.

Objective

To describe a unique technique for incorporating both biologic autologous bone and nonbiologic allograft materials for defect coverage in cranioplasty with favorable outcomes and low occurrence of complications.

Design, Setting, and Participants

A retrospective medical records review of all 26 patients who underwent primary cranioplasty procedure with a modified technique between January 2011 and December 2015 at a high-volume head and neck oncologic reconstructive practice was conducted; data analysis was also performed during that period. After several years of experience with traditional cranioplasty maneuvers, the modified technique has evolved to incorporate both autologous bone grafts and alloplastic materials in the formation of a shapeable on-lay material. Data were collected on demographics, need for cranioplasty, materials used, outcomes, and risk factors.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Rates of infection, hematoma, flap loss or resorption, cerebrospinal fluid leak, hardware exposure or malfunction, and repeated reconstruction.

Results

Of the 26 patients, 21 (81%) were men; mean (SD) age was 65.8 (14.3) years. Eight (31%) patients had a history of diabetes, 4 (15%) patients were receiving immunosuppressive drugs, and 5 (19%) patients were active smokers at the time of surgery. Neoplasia was the most common cause of the calvarial defect seen, responsible for 20 of 28 (71%) operative defects and necessitated procedures. All but 1 patient achieved successful mineralization following primary cranioplasty with the modified technique; this success was verified based on physical examination and follow-up imaging. Complications were rare and involved only 3 patients who developed postoperative infection; 1 (4%) of these patients lost the integrity of the cranioplasty. Thus, the rate of infection was 11% and loss rate was 4%. Preoperative and postoperative radiotherapy appeared to have no bearing on graft survival.

Conclusions and Relevance

The results using a unique technique for incorporating both biologic autologous bone and nonbiologic allograft materials for defect coverage in cranioplasty are favorable, with satisfactory aesthetic outcomes and limited postoperative complications.

Level of Evidence

4.

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