Use of frozen cranial vault bone allografts in the repair of extensive cranial bone defects

Acta Neurochir (Wien). 1997;139(7):653-60. doi: 10.1007/BF01412001.


In cranioplasty complexity is proportional to the size of the detect, particularly if greater than 50 cm2. If the patient's own bone flap is not available, allogenic frozen bone graft can be used instead. Between June 1990 and June 1995 twenty cranioplasties with allogenic frozen bone grafts were performed. Age of patients ranged between 23 and 63 years (average 38.4 years). Male/female ratio was 2:1.7. Size of craniectomy ranged between 65 and 150 cm2 (average 83.3 cm2). Follow-up ranged between 10 and 58 months (average 41 months). Donors were tested to rule out transmissible diseases, infections, sepsis and/or cancer. Bone grafts were removed under aseptic conditions, microbiological cultures were taken, wrapped in a gauze soaked with Gentamicin sulphate and Bacitracin, sealed in three sterilised vinyl plastic bags, and stored in a deep freezer for a minimum of 30 days (range 36-93 days, average 67 days), at a temperature of -80 degrees C. Grafts were placed in the defect after a step was carved on its borders to facilitate the contact between host and graft. Vancomycin 1 g. IV/12 hours and Ceftriaxone 1 g. IV/12 hours were administered for five days. Grafts were covered by means of scalp flaps. Only one required a musculocutaneous free flap. None was exposed, extruded or had to be removed. Plain skull X-ray studies showed progressive remodelling of the grafts. Partial resorption was observed in two (2/20, 10%) and loss of thickness in another 3/20 (15%), but with no changes in the contour. Biopsies were taken in 3/20 (15%) cases at a second surgical procedure. Areas of osteoclastic resorptive activity mixed with others of osteoblastic bone apposition, showed replacement with new bone. We conclude that cranial vault frozen allografts are a good alternative to autologous bone when the latter is absent or not present in sufficient amount.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bone Diseases / therapy*
  • Bone Transplantation / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Skull / transplantation*
  • Transplantation, Homologous / methods*