Complications of hydroxyapatite bone cement in secondary pediatric craniofacial reconstruction

J Craniofac Surg. 2011 Jan;22(1):247-51. doi: 10.1097/SCS.0b013e3181f7b7db.


Hydroxyapatite cement has become a popular alternative to bone grafts in reconstructing the calvarium. Although animal studies have shown promising results with use of hydroxyapatite, human clinical studies have shown mixed results including significant rates of infection. This is a retrospective chart review during a 7-year period (1997-2003) of 20 patients who underwent secondary forehead cranioplasty with hydroxyapatite cement (Norian Craniofacial Reconstruction System). Basic demographics including age, sex, and diagnosis were identified. Characteristics of the defects were recorded including size, location, and depth (full versus partial thickness). The volume of hydroxyapatite and any adjunctive procedures were identified. The postoperative course was analyzed for length of follow-up and the presence of infections.Twenty patients were identified in which Norian had been used and 3 patients were lost to follow-up. Secondary forehead asymmetry was the most common presentation. The mean volume of hydroxyapatite used was 24.4 mL. All patients had initially acceptable aesthetic results. Of the 17 patients, 10 (59%) ultimately had infectious complications. Infection occurred on a mean of 17.3 months after surgery (range, 4 mo to 4 y), and the mean amount of hydroxyapatite used was 32.5 mL (infections) versus 14.3 mL (no infections). Of the 10 patients with complications, 9 required surgical debridement and subsequent delayed reconstruction. Although hydroxyapatite cement can yield excellent aesthetic results, its use in secondary reconstruction has yielded unacceptably high infection rates leading to discontinuation of its use in this patient population.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Calcium Phosphates*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Facial Bones / surgery*
  • Female
  • Forehead / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Postoperative Complications / therapy
  • Reconstructive Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skull / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Calcium Phosphates
  • Norian SRS Cement