Objectives To measure the incidence of postoperative headaches after retrosigmoid resections of acoustic neuromas and to evaluate the impact of cranioplasty on the prevention and management of these headaches.
Study Design A prospective evaluation was performed on 30 consecutive patients who underwent a cranioplasty after retrosigmoid excision of their acoustic neuroma. The results were compared with 30 historical control patients who underwent the same procedure but did not have reconstruction with a cranioplasty. The patients were evaluated by review of office records and via telephone questionnaire.
Methods One group of patients (30 patients) had no cranioplasty, and the other group of 30 patients had primary reconstruction with a titanium mesh-acrylic cranioplasty. All 60 patients were asked to report on the duration and severity of their headaches by means of a standard questionnaire, grading their symptoms on a scale of 1 to 4. The data were subjected to χ2 and Student t test statistical analyses.
Results New-onset, postoperative headaches occurred in 27% of patients, 23% in the cranioplasty group compared with 30% in the group without cranioplasty (a difference that was not statistically significant [P = .158]). However, there was a statistically significant difference in the severity of the headaches (P < .03). The headaches in the cranioplasty group were less severe and were not disabling. There were no complications, infections, or extrusions related to the cranioplasty.
Conclusions Cranioplasty has not been able to eliminate postoperative headaches. However, the use of cranioplasty has significantly decreased the severity of postoperative headaches after retrosigmoid excision of acoustic neuromas.