Cranioplasty after decompressive craniectomy: An institutional audit and analysis of factors related to complications.

Research paper by Zain A ZA Sobani, Muhammad Shahzad MS Shamim, Syed Nabeel SN Zafar, Mohsin M Qadeer, Najiha N Bilal, Syed Ghulam SG Murtaza, Syed Anther SA Enam, Muhammad Ehsan ME Bari

Indexed on: 08 Nov '11Published on: 08 Nov '11Published in: Surgical neurology international


Although a relatively simple procedure, cranioplasties have been associated with high complication rates. Keeping this in perspective, we aimed to determine the factors associated with immediate and long-term complications of cranioplasties at our institution.A retrospective review of patient records was carried out for patients having undergone reconstructive cranioplasties at our institution during the last 10 years (2001-2010). All case notes, records, and investigations were reviewed and the data were recorded in a predesigned questionnaire. Complications were recorded along with existing comorbids and measures taken for their prevention and management. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analysis was performed to determine possible predictors of complications.A total of 96 patients with a mean age of 33 + 15 years were included in the study. Of the sample, 76% (n = 73) had no comorbids. The leading primary pathology was blunt traumatic brain injuries in 46% (n = 44), followed by cerebrovascular incidents in 24% (n = 23), penetrating traumatic brain injuries in 12% (n = 11), and tumors in 10% (n = 10) of cases, with 41% (n = 39) of patients requiring multiple craniotomies. In a mean follow-up of 386 ± 615 days, complications were noted in 36.5% (n = 35) of the patients. Twenty six percent of patients (n = 25) had minor complications which included breakthrough seizures (15.6%, n = 15), subgaleal collections (3.1%, n = 3), and superficial wound infections (3.1%, n = 3), whereas major complications (10.4% n = 10) included hydrocephalus (3.1%, n = 3), transient neurological deficits (3.1%, n = 3), and osteomyelitis (2.1%, n = 2). Univariate and multivariate analysis revealed External Ventricular Drain (EVD) placement and parietal flaps to be associated with complications. This could be explained by the fact that the patients requiring EVD usually have relatively severe head injuries, increasing the possibility of hydrocephalus.We have found a higher risk of complications of cranioplasty in patients who had EVD placement and removal prior to their constructive surgery. We however did not find any association between risks of complications in any other studied variable. We also did not find any association between intraoperative placement of subgaleal drains and postoperative risk of subgaleal fluid collections. Overall, our results are comparable with other reported series on cranioplasties.