Vol 51, No 3 (2017)

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Reconstruction of large cranial defects with poly-methyl-methacrylate (PMMA) using a rapid prototyping model and a new technique for intraoperative implant modeling

Claudia Unterhofer1, Christoph Wipplinger1, Michael Verius2, Wolfgang Recheis2, Claudius Thomé1, Martin Ortler1
DOI: 10.1016/j.pjnns.2017.02.007
Neurol Neurochir Pol 2017;51(3):214-220.



Reconstruction of large cranial defects after craniectomy can be accomplished by free-hand poly-methyl-methacrylate (PMMA) or industrially manufactured implants. The free-hand technique often does not achieve satisfactory cosmetic results but is inexpensive. In an attempt to combine the accuracy of specifically manufactured implants with low cost of PMMA.


Forty-six consecutive patients with large skull defects after trauma or infection were retrospectively analyzed. The defects were reconstructed using computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) techniques. The computer file was imported into a rapid prototyping (RP) machine to produce an acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene model (ABS) of the patient's bony head. The gas-sterilized model was used as a template for the intraoperative modeling of the PMMA cranioplasty. Thus, not the PMMA implant was generated by CAD/CAM technique but the model of the patients head to easily form a well-fitting implant. Cosmetic outcome was rated on a six-tiered scale by the patients after a minimum follow-up of three months.


The mean size of the defect was 74.36cm2. The implants fitted well in all patients. Seven patients had a postoperative complication and underwent reoperation. Mean follow-up period was 41 months (range 2–91 months). Results were excellent in 42, good in three and not satisfactory in one patient. Costs per implant were approximately 550 Euros.


PMMA implants fabricated in-house by direct molding using a bio-model of the patients bony head are easily produced, fit properly and are inexpensive compared to cranial implants fabricated with other RP or milling techniques.

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Neurologia i Neurochirurgia Polska