“In-window” craniotomy and “bridgelike” duraplasty: an alternative to decompressive hemicraniectomy

J Neurosurg 113:982–989, 2010. DOI: 10.3171/2009.11.JNS09674

The object of this study was to propose an alternative procedure to the classic decompressive hemicraniectomy using an “in-window” craniotomy and a “bridgelike” duraplasty.

Methods. The authors performed a large, almost rectangular craniotomy involving the frontal, temporal, and parietal bones and part of the occipital squama in 5 patients. The dura mater is opened and its area is enlarged using a rectangular dural patch of the surgeon’s choice in the form of a bridge between the anterior and posterior dural edges. With a vertical cut, the bone flap is divided into 2 similarly sized pieces that function as “window lids.” The outer frontal and occipital sides of the bone are tied to the skull border at 2 points to function as a hinge joint. The angle of the bone cut must be beveled outward (inclination ~ 45° of the bone drill or saw) to allow the bone flap to rest on the adjacent skull and prevent its slippage toward the intracranial cavity.

Results. The above procedures were performed with effective control of intracranial hypertension due to cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, brain trauma, intracerebral hematoma, or malignant cerebral ischemia.

Conclusions. Decompressive surgery, which uses an in-window craniotomy that gradually opens according to the intracranial pressure, is an alternative solution for deploying autologous material. The procedure has the advantage of obviating the need for a second surgical procedure to close the bone defect, and thus preventing the metabolic cerebral impairment associated with the absence of an overlying skull.