The optimal management of cranioplasty infections remains a matter of debate. Most authors have suggested that the infected bone/implant removal is mandatory, combined with prolonged antibiotic therapy before reconstruction. However, failures can occur, even with 12-18-month intervals between the surgeries. Longer wait times before cranial reconstruction increase the risks of socioeconomic burdens and further complications, as observed in decompressed patients hosting shunts. In our department, we treated 48 cranioplasty infections over a period of 8 years, divided into two groups. For Group A (n = 26), the treatment consisted of cranioplasty removal and debridement, followed by a delayed reconstruction. Group B (n = 22) received 2 weeks of broad-spectrum antibiotics, followed by an "aggressive" field debridement and immediate cranioplasty. All patients received a minimum of 8 weeks of post-operative antibiotic therapy and were scheduled for clinic-radiological follow-ups for at least 36 months. Significant differences were observed between Groups A and B with respect to the number of failures (respectively 7 versus 1), the global operative time (significantly longer for Group B), germ identification (respectively 7 versus 13), and the overall length of hospital stay (on average, 61.04 days in Group A versus 47.41 days in Group B). Three shunted patients in Group A developed sinking flap syndrome. Shunt resetting allowed symptom control until cranioplasty in one subject, whereas two did not improve, even after reconstruction. In selected patients, an aggressive field debridement, followed by the immediate replacement of an infected cranioplasty, may represent a safe and valuable option.
Di Rienzo, Alessandro
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