Cranioplasty or correction of the bone defect of the skull is a commonly performed procedure. The most routine cases are of decompressive craniectomy, where a large piece of skull bone is removed in patients of accidents\bleeding or brain swelling. Some tumours may also destroy the bone thus requiring replacement of the same.
Cranioplasty serves two major purposes, it provides protection to the brain and secondly it is cosmetic and helps cover the defect created by surgery.
Road traffic accidents, more often than not, affect the younger generation. It is unfortunate that many of them are left with an unsightly hole in their skull, despite otherwise making a complete recovery.
Traditionally the defect is repaired with the patient's skull bone which may be preserved in the abdomen or in a bone bank at the time of surgery. However, this is not possible in some cases and may also not provide the required cosmetic results. This is because the flap tends to become smaller over time and leaves a gap when replaced.
Also, in approximately 25% of the patients, the flap becomes thinner over time due to absorption of the bone by the body and in some cases, this may become so severe that the remaining flap breaks or gets completely absorbed thus not being able to provide protection and also does not look good. Some patients may also develop headaches, lethargy and other symptoms if the skull bone does not provide them adequate protection. The bone replacement may not also be possible in patients who had extensive fractures or infections.
PSI or Patient-Specific Implants are 3D modelled implants that are made to provide a custom fit for the patient thus providing a good cosmetic outcome and also avoiding some of the problems associated with preserved bone. The implants are designed using the patient CT scan and specialised software makes a mirror image of the opposite side bone to give an exact match. These are then printed on a 3D printer which can be then fixed during surgery. The implants are made of Titanium or PEEK.
Everyone deserves to look their best even after major surgery or an accident. By using cutting edge technology, it has become possible to provide the same results along with better cosmesis.