Child's Nervous System

, Volume 35, Issue 9, pp 1517–1524 | Cite as

From decompressive craniectomy to cranioplasty and beyond—a pediatric neurosurgery perspective

  • Thomas BeezEmail author
  • Christopher Munoz-Bendix
  • Sebastian Alexander Ahmadi
  • Hans-Jakob Steiger
  • Kerim Beseoglu
Original Article



Decompressive craniectomy (DC) is an established neurosurgical emergency technique. Patient selection, optimal timing, and technical aspects related to DC and subsequent cranioplasty remain subjects of debate. For children, the overall degree of evidence is low, compared with randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in adults.


Here, we present a detailed retrospective analysis of pediatric DC, covering the primary procedure and cranioplasty. Results are analyzed and discussed in the light of modern scientific evidence, and conclusions are drawn to stimulate future research.


The main indication for DC in children is traumatic brain injury (TBI). Primary and secondary DC is performed with similar frequency. Outcome appears to be better than that in adults, although long-term complications (especially bone flap resorption after autologous cranioplasty) are more common in children. Overt clinical signs of cerebral herniation prior to DC are predictors of poor outcome.


We conclude that DC is an important option in the armamentarium to treat life-threatening intracranial hypertension, but further research is warranted, preferentially in a multicenter prospective registry.


Intracranial hypertension Cranial reconstruction Bone flap resorption 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Neurosurgery, Medical FacultyHeinrich-Heine-UniversityDüsseldorfGermany

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