INTRODUCTION: Numerous techniques have been described to overcome scalp deficiency and high-tension closure at time of cranioplasty. However, there is an existing controversy, over when and if a free flap is needed during complex skull reconstruction (ie, cranioplasty). As such the authors present here our experience using full-thickness skin grafts (FTSGs) to cover local defects following scalp adjacent tissue transfer in the setting of cranioplasty. METHODS: By way of an institutional review board-approved database, the authors identified patients treated over a 3-year period spanning January 2015 to December 2017, who underwent scalp reconstruction using the technique presented here. Patient demographics, clinical characteristics, technical details, outcomes, and long-term follow up were statistically analyzed for the purpose of this study. RESULTS: Thirty-three patients, who underwent combined cranioplasty and scalp reconstruction using an FTSG for local donor site coverage, were identified. Twenty-five (75%) patients were considered to have "high complexity" scalp defects prior to reconstruction. Of them, 12 patients (36%) were large-sized and 20 (60%) medium-sized; 21 (64%) grafts were inset over vascularized muscle or pericranium while the remaining grafts were placed over bare calvarial bone. In total, the authors found 94% (31/33) success for all FTSGs in this cohort. Two of the skin grafts failed due to unsuccessful take. Owing to the high rate of success in this series, none of the patient's risk factors were found to correlate with graft failure. In addition, the success rate did not differ whether the graft was placed over bone verses over vascularized muscle/pericranium. CONCLUSION: In contrary to previous studies that have reported inconsistent success with full-thickness skin grafting in this setting, the authors present a simple technique with consistent results-as compared to other more complex reconstructive methods-even in the setting of highly complex scalp reconstruction and simultaneous cranioplasty.
ASJC Scopus subject areas