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Abstracts: Commentary
November 2003

Cranial Reconstruction With Computer-Generated Hard-Tissue Replacement Patient-Matched Implants: Indications, Surgical Technique, and Long-term Follow-up

Author Affiliations

Omaha, Neb


Omaha, Neb

Arch Facial Plast Surg. 2003;5(6):533-534. doi:10.1001/archfaci.5.6.533

Eppley BL, Kilgo M, Coleman JJ III

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2002;109:864-871

The aim of this clinical study was to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of using computer-generated alloplastic (hard-tissue replacement) implants for the reconstruction of large defects of the upper craniofacial region. Fourteen patients who had large (>150 cm2) preexisting defects of the cranium or cranio-orbital region underwent surgical reconstruction. Preoperatively, a three-dimensional computed tomographic scan was obtained from which an anatomic model was fabricated. The defect in the model was then used to create an alloplastic (hard-tissue replacement polymer) implant for reconstruction and surgical placement. At the time of surgery, the implant was secured into position with either metal or resorbable fixation. In cases where the frontal sinus was in proximity to the implant, the frontal sinus was either cranialized and covered with a pericranial flap or obliterated with hydroxyapatite cement. In cases that had been previously irradiated or infected, wide bony debridement and coverage with a vascularized muscle was initially performed, followed by implant reconstruction 6 months later. All implants fit easily into the bone defects, and only four (29 percent) required some minor adjustments to complete the fit. All patients healed uneventfully. With a minimum of 1 year follow-up (average, 3 years) in all cases, excellent contours have been maintained and all patients have remained infection-free. In large cranial defects, custom implants fabricated from porous, hydrophilic hard-tissue replacement polymer provide an exacting anatomic fit and a solid stable reconstruction. This method of reconstruction in these defects is rapid and exact, and significantly reduces operative time. Critical attention must be paid, however, to management of the frontal sinus and preexisting bone infection and the quality of the overlying soft-tissue cover.

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