Complications of Cranioplasty in Relation to Material: Systematic Review, Network Meta-Analysis and Meta-Regression

Neurosurgery 89:383–394, 2021

Cranioplasty is a ubiquitous neurosurgical procedure consisting of reconstruction of a pre-existing calvarial defect. Many materials are available, including polymethylmethacrylate in hand-moulded (hPMMA) and prefabricated (pPMMA) form, hydroxyapatite (HA), polyetheretherketone (PEEK) and titanium (Ti). OBJECTIVE: To perform a networkmeta-analysis (NMA) to assess the relationship between materials and complications of cranioplasty.

METHODS: PubMed/MEDLINE, Google Scholar, EMBASE, Scopus, and The Cochrane Library were searched from January 1, 1990 to February 14, 2021. Studies detailing rates of any of infections, implant exposure, or revision surgery were included. A frequentist NMA was performed for each complication. Risk ratios (RRs) with 95% CIs were calculated for each material pair.

RESULTS: A total of 3620 abstractswere screened and 31 full paperswere included. Surgical revision was reported in 18 studies and occurred in 316/2032 cases (14%; 95% CI 11-17). PEEK had the lowest risk of re-operation with a rate of 8/157 (5%; 95% CI 0-11) in 5 studies, superior to autografts (RR 0.20; 95% CI 0.07-0.57), hPMMA (RR 0.20; 95% CI 0.07-0.60), Ti (RR 0.39; 95% CI 0.17-0.92), and pPMMA (RR 0.14; 95% CI 0.04-0.51). Revision rate was 131/684 (19%; 95% CI 13-25; 10 studies) in autografts, 61/317 (18%; 95%CI 9-28; 7 studies) in hPMMA, 84/599 (13%; 95% CI 7-19; 11 studies) in Ti, 7/59 (9%; 95% CI 1-23; 3 studies) in pPMMA, and 25/216 (12%; 95%CI 4-24; 4 studies) in HA. Infection occurred in 463/4667 (8%; 95%CI 6-11) and implant exposure in 120/1651 (6%; 95% CI 4-9).

CONCLUSION: PEEK appears to have the lowest risk of cranioplasty revision, but further research is required to determine the optimal material.