Management of postneurosurgical bone flap loss caused by infection

Steffen Baumeister, Alberto Peek, Allen Friedman, L. Scott Levin, Jeffrey R. Marcus

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


LEARNING OBJECTIVES: After studying this article, the participant should: 1. Be able to define indications and timing for secondary cranioplasty. 2. Understand the surgical options for reconstructing the cranium and overlying soft-tissue defect including their advantages and disadvantages. 3. Be able to apply this knowledge to the clinical setting of an infectious bone flap loss. BACKGROUND: Infection after craniotomy occurs in approximately 1.1 to 8.1 percent of cases and often necessitates bone flap removal. For a secondary cranioplasty, there is an increased risk of recurrent infection, which influences the reconstructive plan. The soft tissue/scalp is frequently compromised by infection, sequelae of prior surgery, and/or adjuvant radiation therapy. METHODS: A literature review was conducted to compile and summarize the indications for secondary cranioplasty after infectious bone flap loss, the timing of the procedure, and the surgical options for bone and soft-tissue reconstruction. In coordination with soft-tissue coverage, cranioplasty options include alloplastic reconstruction, allogeneic or autogenous bone grafts, and free tissue transfer. RESULTS: The literature review identified the following factors that must be considered in the treatment plan for secondary cranioplasty after postneurosurgical bone flap loss: indications, timing of reconstruction, soft-tissue status and the need for soft-tissue reconstruction, and method of cranioplasty. CONCLUSIONS: Treatment recommendations for cranioplasty in the clinical setting of infectious postneurosurgical bone flap loss are presented. These guidelines consider the risk factors for a recurrent infection, the condition of the soft-tissue coverage, and the concavity of the preoperative cranial deformity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195e-208e
JournalPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes


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