Two surgical methods used in 90 patients with intracranial subdural empyema

J Clin Neurosci. 2009 Dec;16(12):1567-71. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2009.01.036. Epub 2009 Sep 29.


We studied the efficacy of two surgical methods used for the treatment of intracranial subdural empyema (ISDE) at our centre. A cross-sectional study (1999-2005) of 90 patients with non-traumatic supratentorial ISDE revealed that the two surgical methods used for empyema removal were burr hole/s and drainage (50 patients, 55.6%) and a cranial bone opening procedure (CBOP) (40 patients, 44.4%). Patients in the CBOP group had a better result in terms of clinical improvement (chi-squared analysis, p=0.006) and clearance of empyema on brain CT scan (chi-squared analysis, p<0.001). Reoperation was more frequent among patients who had undergone burr hole surgery (multiple logistic regression, p<0.001). The outcome and morbidity of ISDE survivors were not related to the surgical method used (p>0.05). The only factor that significantly affected the morbidity of ISDE was level of consciousness at the time of surgery (multiple logistic regression, p<0.001). We conclude that CBOP and evacuation of the empyema is a better surgical method for ISDE than burr hole/s and drainage. Wide cranial opening and empyema evacuation improves neurological status, gives better clearance of the empyema and reduces the need for reoperation. Level of consciousness at the time of presentation is a predictor of the morbidity of ISDE. Thus, aggressive surgical treatment should occur as early as possible, before the patient deteriorates.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Craniotomy / methods*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drainage / methods*
  • Empyema, Subdural / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurosurgical Procedures
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Trephining / methods*
  • Young Adult