Pediatric supratentorial subdural empyemas: a retrospective analysis of 65 cases

Pediatr Neurosurg. 2009;45(1):11-8. doi: 10.1159/000202619. Epub 2009 Feb 17.


Aim: Intracranial subdural empyemas (SDEs), the majority of which are supratentorial in location, are common neurosurgical emergencies in developing countries, especially in the pediatric age group. They result in significant morbidity and mortality despite improvements in neuroimaging, surgical techniques and antibiotic therapy. In the present study, we retrospectively analyze our experience with operated cases of intracranial supratentorial SDEs in the pediatric age group.

Patients and methods: 65 pediatric patients (age <or=18 years) with supratentorial SDEs were treated in our institute between January 1988 and May 2006, and the case records analyzed with respect to clinical, radiological, bacteriological and surgical complications and outcome data.

Results: There was a slight male preponderance (55%), with mean age being 9.54 +/- 6.43 years (range 3 months to 18 years). Otogenic source was the most common identifiable etiology, followed by postmeningitic and rhinogenic sources. The initial surgical intervention, burr holes (44 patients; 67.7%) and craniotomy (21 patients; 32.3%), varied with individual cases and surgeon preference. Initial craniotomy was associated with lesser repeat procedures, and slightly better clinical outcome. The majority (83.3%) of patients with significant residual requiring repeat surgery were found to have undergone burr hole evacuation initially. The mortality rate in the present series was 10.8%. Follow-up was available for 41 patients (70.7%) with an average follow-up of 10.4 months. 88% of patients showed good outcomes (Glasgow Outcome Scores of 4 or 5) at the latest follow-up.

Conclusion: Pediatric supratentorial SDEs, although rapidly fatal if not identified promptly, can be effectively managed with early surgical drainage (preferably craniotomy), eradication of the source, and sensitive broad-spectrum antibiotics (i.v.) with good outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Craniotomy*
  • Drainage
  • Empyema, Subdural / diagnostic imaging*
  • Empyema, Subdural / drug therapy
  • Empyema, Subdural / surgery*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glasgow Outcome Scale
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnostic imaging*
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents