OBJECTDural closure with synthetic grafts has been suggested to contribute to the incidence of infection and CSF leak. The objective of this study was to assess the contribution of choice of dural closure material, as well as other factors, to the incidence of infection and CSF leak.METHODSA retrospective, consecutive cohort study of adult patients undergoing elective craniotomy was established between April 2010 and March 2011 at a single center. Exclusion criteria consisted of trauma, bur hole placement alone, and temporary CSF fluid diversion.RESULTSThree hundred ninety-nine patients were included (mean follow-up 396.6 days). Nonautologous (synthetic) dural substitute was more likely to be used (n = 106) in cases of reoperation (p = 0.001). Seventeen patients developed a surgical site infection and 12 patients developed a CSF leak. Multivariate logistic regression modeling identified estimated blood loss (OR 1.002, 95% CI 1.001-1.003; p < 0.001) and cigarette smoking (OR 2.198, 95% CI 1.109-4.238; p = 0.019) as significant predictors of infection. Synthetic dural graft was not a predictor of infection in multivariate analysis. Infratentorial surgery (OR 4.348, 95% CI 1.234-16.722; p = 0.024) and more than 8 days of postoperative corticosteroid treatment (OR 3.886, 95% CI 1.052-16.607; p = 0.048) were significant predictors for the development of CSF leak. Synthetic dural graft was associated with a lower likelihood of CSF leak (OR 0.072, 95% CI 0.003-0.552; p = 0.036).CONCLUSIONSThe use of synthetic dural closure material is not associated with surgical site infection and is associated with a reduced incidence of CSF leak. Modifiable risk factors exist for craniotomy complications that warrant vigilance and further study.