When craniotomy complicated by secondary infection requires debridement and craniectomy, the bony defect is typically not reconstructed immediately. Due to concerns about placing a prosthetic material in an infected field, cranioplasty has traditionally been delayed by weeks or months after craniectomy. However, surgeons have begun performing single-stage cranioplasty after craniectomy in an effort to reduce the morbidity associated with multiple procedures and reduce overall healthcare costs. The purpose of this systematic review is to analyze outcomes of immediate cranioplasty performed after bone flap debridement secondary to infection. A literature review from January 1, 1998 through January 1, 2019 was conducted, examining the data on immediate titanium cranioplasty and its complication and reoperation rates. A meta-analysis of these articles was then performed. Variables studied included incidence of infection post-cranioplasty, wound healing complications, need for unplanned reoperation, and mortality. In total, there were 40 patients who underwent immediate cranioplasty after bone flap debridement. Overall, there was a 5% rate of postoperative infection, a 12.5% rate of unplanned return to the operating room, 7.5% rate of CSF fistula or leak, a 2.5% rate of hematoma, and a 2.5% rate of mortality within the immediate post-op period. Although there are insufficient data in the literature to rigorously compare these immediate cranioplasties in a direct way with the more traditional delayed type; the outcomes of immediate cranioplasty procedures secondary to craniectomy for infection were similar to the outcomes of delayed cranioplasty after craniectomy for any reason. Given these results, immediate titanium cranioplasty should be considered in select patients.
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