BACKGROUND: Reimplantation of cryoconserved autologous bone flaps is a standard procedure after decompressive craniotomies. Aseptic necrosis and resorption are the most frequent complications of this procedure. At present there is no consensus regarding the definition of the relevant extent and indication for surgical revision. The objective of this retrospective analysis was to identify the incidence of bone flap resorption and the optimal duration of follow-up.
METHODS: Between February 2009 and March 2012, 100 cryoconserved autologous bone flaps were reimplanted at the Department of Neurosurgery, Inselspital Bern. Three patients were not available for follow-up, and five patients died before follow-up. All patients underwent follow-up at 6 weeks and a second follow-up more than 12 months postoperatively. A clinical and CT-based score was developed for judgment of relevance and decision making for surgical revision.
RESULTS: Mean follow-up period was 21.6 months postoperatively (range: 12 to 47 months); 48.9 % (45/92) of patients showed no signs of bone flap resorption, 20.7 % (19/92) showed minor resorption with no need for surgical revision, and 30.4 % (28/92) showed major resorption (in 4 % of these the bone flap was unstable or collapsed).
CONCLUSIONS: Aseptic necrosis and resorption of reimplanted autologous bone flaps occurred more frequently in our series of patients than in most reports in the literature. Most cases were identified between 6 and 12 months postoperatively. Clinical observation or CT scans of patients with autologous bone flaps are recommended for at least 12 months. Patient-specific implants may be preferable to autologous bone flaps.