Experiences with a temporary synthetic skin substitute after decompressive craniectomy: a retrospective two-center analysis

Lukas Grassner, Franz Marhold, Miron Yousif, Andreas Grillhösl, Karl Ungersboeck, Joachim Schulz, Martin Strowitzki

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

6 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Decompressive craniectomy is a commonly performed procedure. It reduces intracranial pressure, improves survival, and thus might have a positive impact on several neurosurgical diseases and emergencies. Sometimes primary skin closure is not possible due to cerebral herniation or extensive skin defects. In order to prevent further restriction of the underlying tissue, a temporary skin expansion might be necessary.

METHODS AND MATERIAL: We retrospectively reviewed patients in need for a temporary skin substitute because skin closure was not possible after craniectomy without violating brain tissue underneath in a time period of 6 years (2011-2016). With this study, we present initial experiences of Epigard (Biovision, Germany) as an artificial temporary skin replacement. We performed this analysis at two level-1 trauma centers (Trauma Center Murnau, Germany; University Hospital of St. Poelten, Austria). Demographic data, injury and surgical characteristics, and complication rates were analyzed via chart review. We identified nine patients within our study period. Six patients suffered from severe traumatic brain injury and developed pronounced cerebral herniation in the acute or subacute phase. Three patients presented with non-traumatic conditions (one atypical intracerebral hemorrhage and two patients with extensive destructive tumors invading the skull and scalp).

RESULTS: A total of 20 Epigard exchanges (range 1-4) were necessary before skin closure was possible. A CSF fistula due to a leaky Epigard at the interface to the skin was observed in two patients (22%). Additional complications were four wound infections, three CNS infections, and three patients developed a shunt dependency. Three patients died within the first month after injury.

CONCLUSIONS: Temporary skin closure with Epigard as a substitute is feasible for a variety of neurosurgical conditions. The high complication and mortality rate reflect the complexity of the encountered pathologies and need to be considered when counseling the patient and their families.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-499
Number of pages7
JournalActa Neurochirurgica
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2019


  • Adult
  • Brain Injuries/surgery
  • Decompressive Craniectomy/adverse effects
  • Female
  • Fluorocarbon Polymers/adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications/epidemiology
  • Skin, Artificial/adverse effects
  • Skull/surgery


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