Cranioplasty with Customized Titanium and PEEK Implants in a Mechanical Stress Model

Bernd Lethaus*, Yara Safi, Mariel ter Laak-Poort, Anita Kloss-Brandstaetter, Frans Banki, Christian Robbenmenke, Ulrich Steinseifer, Peter Kessler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Large skull defects as a result of craniectomies due to cerebral insults, trauma, or tumors create functional and aesthetic disturbances for the patient. Cranioplasty with implants in these cases are an alternative to autogenous bone transplantation. In our clinic, customized titanium or optima poly-ether-ether ketone (PEEK) implants are used to reconstruct craniectomy defects. To compare the two materials we investigated the structural changes of the implants fixed to a sintered polyamide skull model under mechanical stress in four simplified models. In a standard testing machine, the models were subjected to a load under a quasi-static loading rate of 1.925 mm/min. Fractures of the PEEK implants occurred at a force of 24.2 and 24.5kN with a displacement of 8.4 and 8 mm. The titanium implants showed no deformation, but extensive damage was seen in the polyamide skull models. The highest pressures achieved were 45.8 and 50.9 kN. In a simplified model with quasi-static loading, both implants withstood forces that were higher than those capable of causing skull fractures. It seems that the mechanical properties of PEEK could provide better protection when used for cranioplasty in patients after craniectomy if reconstruction with autogenous bone is not possible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1077-1083
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


  • decompressive craniectomy
  • in vivo studies
  • surgery
  • traumatic brain injury


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