Cranioplasty is the repair of a skull defect using bone or other biocompatible materials.
The defect occurs after a previous neurosurgery operation to remove the skull to access the brain, and when the removed skull is not replaced. This is known as a craniectomy.
Craniectomy most commonly is performed to treat:
- Severe head injury
Indications for cranioplasty
- Brain protection from injury and knocks to the head
- Improvement of neurological function in some patients
- Restoration of skull defect
- Prevention of headaches and seizures
What is new?
- Modern technique involves using the head contour of the patient to fashion a custom replacement using 3D printing technologies.
- Evolving surgical methods such as inline cranioplasty have been used to minimize risk.
Types of cranioplasty materials
There are different materials used for cranioplasty:
- Calcium-phosphate ceramics
- Thermo-plastic polymers
- Other materials
The surgery is performed under general anaesthesia. The skin is carefully cut and the skull defect is exposed. The implant is positioned and securely fixed. Plates and screws may be required. The scalp is used to cover the new implant and the incision is sutured back in place.
- Patients do not need to live with the stigma of having a large visible skull defect.
- In addition to brain protection, the restoration of the skull has been shown to help with either stabilising or improving neurological function in some cases.
- There are risks and benefits to all surgical procedures.