Object: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the incidence of seizures or epileptiform abnormalities on electroencephalography (EEG) studies in patients undergoing surgical treatment for acute subdural hematoma (SDH).
Methods: This was a retrospective study of 134 consecutive patients with acute or acute-on-chronic SDH who underwent surgical treatment at the authors' institution between January 2004 and July 2008. Detailed information was collected regarding baseline clinical data (including preexistent functional impairment); Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) sum scores before and 24 hours after surgery; presence of clinical seizures; EEG findings; and functional outcome on discharge and up to the 6-month follow-up. All brain CT scans were reviewed to calculate SDH volume and midline shift. The Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) score was used for functional assessment, and GOS scores of 1-3 were considered indicative of poor outcome. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to identify statistical associations.
Results: Clinical seizures or epileptiform changes on EEG were observed during the acute postoperative period in 33 patients (25%). Preexistent functional impairment and seizures/epileptiform EEG findings after surgery were independently associated with poor functional outcome upon hospital discharge (p < 0.001 for both). Preexistent functional impairment (p < 0.001), lower GCS score before surgery (p = 0.04), and lower GCS score 24 hours after surgery (p = 0.007), but not seizures/epileptiform EEG findings, were independently associated with poor functional recovery at 1- to 6-month follow-up evaluations. Seizures/epileptiform EEG findings had a strong association with lower GCS scores after surgery (p = 0.01), and they were more common in patients who underwent evacuation by craniotomy (p = 0.02).
Conclusions: Epileptic complications are common after acute SDH evacuation, and should be suspected in patients with an unanticipated depressed level of consciousness after surgery. Seizures worsen early functional outcome, but delayed favorable recovery is possible. Therefore, one should be cautious when discussing prognosis in the early postoperative period of patients with epileptic complications.