Customized cost‑effective polymethylmethacrylate cranioplasty: a cosmetic comparison with other low‑cost methods of cranioplasty

Acta Neurochirurgica (2022) 164:655–667

Intraoperative hand-moulded cranioplasty and polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) prostheses made from bone impressions are economical but the cosmetic results are less than satisfactory. Commercially available customized prostheses perform better but are prohibitively expensive. We evaluate the performance of a locally developed, low-cost customized PMMA cranioplasty prosthesis.

Objective To compare the cosmetic outcome of 3 types of PMMA cranioplasty as well as with objective measurements on postoperative CT scans

Methods This study includes 70 patients who underwent cranioplasty between March 2016 and June 2020. In this period, patients had their cranioplasty prostheses made by intra-operative hand moulding (HM), by using the removed bone as a template and making a bone impression (BI) or by 3D printing the prosthesis based on a CT scan. Cosmetic outcomes were assessed by the patient and the operating surgeon on an 8-point scale. The degree of measured anthropometric asymmetry was measured on a postoperative CT scan and correlated with the cosmetic outcome.

Results Our locally produced 3D-printed cranioplasty prostheses showed a statistically better performance in cosmetic scores when compared to the HM and BI (p value < 0.001). CT anthropometric measurements significantly correlated with cosmetic outcome (p value 0.01)

Conclusion Our 3D cranioplasty prostheses had better cosmetic outcomes than HM and BI prostheses, and our technique is able to produce them at 10% of the cost of the currently available commercial customized prostheses.