Skull reconstruction performed immediately after trauma worsens brain damage
A study at University of South Florida found that skull reconstruction performed immediately after trauma which penetrates or creates an indentation in the skull worsens brain damage. A delay of two days in the surgical repair of the skull resulted in less brain swelling and damage in a rat model used for the study. Naturally-occurring inflammation helps recruit the body’s glial cells to the damaged area to limit localized injury and performing surgery too soon could inhibit this process. However, cranioplasty, surgery to replace the missing piece of the skull protecting the brain, is necessary and current practice calls for the operation to be performed quickly in order to reduce the chance of infection or other complications that could arise from the brain being exposed. Further study must be done to weigh the risk of infection from leaving the brain exposed and the benefit of using the brain’s natural healing process.