Object. Management of postcraniotomy wound infections has traditionally consisted of operative debridement and removal of devitalized bone flaps followed by delayed cranioplasty. The authors report the highly favorable results of a prospective study in which postcraniotomy wound infections were managed with surgical debridement to preserve the bone flaps and avoid cranioplasty.
Methods. Since 1990, 13 patients with postcraniotomy wound infections have been prospectively treated with open surgical debridement and replacement of the bone flap. All patients received a full course of systemic antibiotic agents based on the determination of the bacterial culture and antibiotic sensitivity. Notable risk factors for infection included prior craniotomies, radiotherapy, and skull base procedures. The mean long-term follow-up period was 35 × 20 months. In all five patients who underwent craniotomies without complications, bone flap preservation was possible with full resolution of the infection and without the need for additional surgery. Among the eight patients with risk factors, bone preservation was possible in six patients, although two required minor wound revisions (without bone flap removal). Both patients who underwent craniofacial procedures required an additional procedure in which the bone flap was removed for recurrent infection (one after 2 months and the other after 29 months).
Conclusions. In patients with uncomplicated postcraniotomy infections, simple operative debridement is sufficient and it is not necessary to discard the bone flaps and perform cranioplasties. Even patients with risk factors such as prior surgery or radiotherapy can usually be treated using this strategy. Patients who undergo craniofacial surgeries involving the nasal sinuses are at higher risk and may require bone flap removal.