Background: To date, calvarial defects in dogs have traditionally been addressed with different types of implants including bone allograft, polymethylmethacrylate and titanium mesh secured with conventional metallic fixation methods. This report describes the use of an absorbable and non absorbable novel polymer fixation method, Bonewelding® technology, in combination with titanium mesh for the repair of calvarial defects in two dogs. The clinical outcomes and comparative complication using resorbable and non-resorbable thermoplastic pins were compared.
Case presentation: This report of two cases documents the repair of a traumatic calvarial fracture in an adult male Greyhound and a cranioplasty following frontal bone tumor resection in an adult female Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with the use of a commercially available titanium mesh secured with an innovative thermoplastic polymer screw system (Bonewelding®). The treatment combination aimed to restore cranial structure, sinus integrity and cosmetic appearance. A mouldable titanium mesh was cut to fit the bone defect of the frontal bone and secured with either resorbable or non-resorbable polymer pins using Bonewelding® technology. Gentamycin-impregnated collagen sponge was used intraoperatively to assist with sealing of the frontal sinuses. Calvarial fracture and post-operative implant positioning were advised using computed tomography. A satisfactory restoration of skull integrity and cosmetic result was achieved, and long term clinical outcome was deemed clinically adequate with good patient quality of life. Postoperative complications including rostral mesh uplift with minor associated clinical signs were encountered when resorbable pins were used. No postoperative complications were experienced in non-resorbable pins at 7 months follow-up, by contrast mesh uplift was noted 3 weeks post-procedure in the case treated using absorbable pins.
Conclusions: The report demonstrates the innovative use of sonic-activated polymer pins (Bonewelding® technology) alongside titanium mesh is a suitable alternative technique for skull defect repair in dogs. The use of Bonewelding® may offer advantages in reduction of surgical time. Further, ultrasonic pin application may be less invasive than alternative metallic fixation and potentially reduces bone trauma. Polymer systems may offer enhanced mesh-bone integration when compared to traditional metallic implants. The use of polymer pins demonstrates initial potential as a fixation method in cranioplasty. Initial findings in a single case comparison indicate a possible advantage in the use of non-absorbable over the absorbable systems to circumvent complications associated with variable polymer degradation, further long term studies with higher patient numbers are required before reliable conclusions can be made.
Keywords: Bioresorbable; Bonewelding®; Calvarial defect; Non-resorbable; Polymer pins; Titanium mesh.