Effects of Cranioplasty on Cerebral Blood Flow Following Decompressive Craniectomy

Neurosurgery 81:204–216, 2017

Cranioplasty after decompressive craniectomy (DC) is routinely performed for reconstructive purposes and has been recently linked to improved cerebral blood flow (CBF) and neurological function.

OBJECTIVE: To systematically review all available literature to evaluate the effect of cranioplasty on CBF and neurocognitive recovery.

METHODS: A PubMed, Google Scholar, and MEDLINE search adhering to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines included studies reporting patients who underwent DC and subsequent cranioplasty in whom cerebral hemodynamics were measured before and after cranioplasty.

RESULTS: The search yielded 21 articles with a total of 205 patients (range 3–76 years) who underwent DC and subsequent cranioplasty. Two studies enrolled 29 control subjects for a total of 234 subjects. Studies used different imaging modalities, including CT perfusion (n = 10), Xenon-CT (n = 3), single-photon emission CT (n = 2), transcranial Doppler (n = 6), MR perfusion (n = 1), and positron emission tomography (n = 2). Precranioplasty CBF evaluation ranged from 2 days to 6 months; postcranioplasty CBF evaluation ranged from 7 days to 6 months. All studies demonstrated an increase in CBF ipsilateral to the side of the cranioplasty. Nine of 21 studies also reported an increase in CBF on the contralateral side.Neurological function improved in an overwhelming majority of patients after cranioplasty.

CONCLUSION: This systematic review suggests that cranioplasty improves CBF following DC with a concurrent improvement in neurological function. The causative impact of CBF on neurological function, however, requires further study.