Surgical treatment of intracerebral haemorrhage

Br Med Bull. 2000;56(2):444-56. doi: 10.1258/0007142001903085.


There is at present no clear indication for surgical removal of intracerebral haemorrhage (ICH) in the majority of patients. With deterioration from an initially good level of consciousness, many surgeons would agree that removal is life saving. The question is whether or not surgical removal of clot improves the ultimate outcome in patients who are stable or even improving. Improvement in function is based on the concept of a penumbra around an ICH. There is now mounting evidence that there is a penumbra of functionally impaired, but potentially reversible, neuronal injury surrounding a haematoma. A pro-active approach must, therefore, be maintained in the management of these patients to salvage as much of this brain as possible. Alert patients with small (< 2 cm) haematomas and moribund patients with extensive haemorrhage may not require surgical evacuation. Indications for clot removal in patients between these extremes are controversial. Current practice favours surgical intervention in the following situations: (i) superficial haemorrhage; (ii) clot volume between 20-80 ml; (iii) worsening neurological status; (iv) relatively young patients; (v) haemorrhage causing midline shift/raised ICP; and (vi) cerebellar haematomas > 3 cm or causing hydrocephalus. A large multicentre prospective randomised controlled trial (International Surgical Trial in Intracerebral Haemorrhage) is currently underway to determine if early clot evacuation will lead to a better neurological outcome in patients with spontaneous supratentorial, non-aneurysmal ICH.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / drug therapy
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic