Titanium cranioplasty (TC), the operative repair of a skull defect with an ergonomically manufactured plate to restore cosmesis, cranial function and reduce complications is a common neurosurgical procedure. It is technically simple but has high complication rates. This study aimed to determine the incidence and predictors of complications following TC.
All patients undergoing TC over a 42-month period in our institution.
Data was collected from the hospital database and case-notes. 3D CT reconstructions accurately measured defect size and location. Statistical analysis included correlation, independent variable analysis and descriptive methods.
A total of 95 TCs were analysed in 92 patients (3 cases of bifrontal cranioplasty). The commonest indications for TC were bony defect following removal of infected bone flap (n = 20), acute subdural haematoma (n = 18) and post-malignant infarction (n = 11). The commonest site was frontotemporoparietal (n = 61) and the overall complication rate was 30.4%. The commonest complication was infection and the overall removal rate was 8.4%. The mean cranioplasty area was 73.26 cm(2) (range 12.78-178.26 cm(2)). There was a significant relationship between area and length of post-operative hospital stay (p = 0.008, Pearson Rank). There was no significant relationship between area and complications, removal rates or infections. There was no relationship between age and total complications, post-operative hospital stay and infections. There was a non-significant trend for older patients to have their cranioplasty removed.
TC size is predictive of postoperative length of stay. However, the TC size is not predictive of complications or removal rate. Also, there was no association between interval since primary operation and complications. There was a non-significant trend for greater rates of TC removal in the elderly. There were no predictors of complications identified but they are common and patients should be consented accordingly.