Outcome following evacuation of acute subdural haematomas: a comparison of craniotomy with decompressive craniectomy

Acta Neurochir (Wien). 2012 Sep;154(9):1555-61. doi: 10.1007/s00701-012-1428-8. Epub 2012 Jun 30.


Background: Acute subdural haematomas (ASDH) occur commonly following traumatic brain injury and may be evacuated by either craniotomy (CR) or decompressive craniectomy (DC). We reviewed a series of consecutive patients undergoing evacuation of a traumatic ASDH at a regional centre, comparing observed clinical outcomes (assessed by Glasgow Outcome Scale at six months) with those predicted by the CRASH-CT prognostic model.

Methods: Retrospective review of prospectively collected data.

Results: Ninety-one patients were identified (51 DC and 40 CR ). Eighty-five had available admission data sets from which predicted outcome could be calculated. The DC group were younger than the CR group (p = 0.015). The DC group also had a greater proportion of patients whose pre-intubation GCS was ≤8 (p = 0.001), with significant extracranial injuries (p = 0.001) and obliterated basal cisterns (p = 0.001) on their pre-operative CT scan. Bone flaps in the DC group (n = 45) were longer (mean 11.6 cm; 95 % CI: 11.1-12.1) in comparison to bone flaps in the CR (n = 34) group [(mean 10.2 cm; 95 % CI: 9.35 - 10.9); p = 0.0024] The mean CRASH-CT predicted risk of 14-day mortality and of unfavourable outcome at six months was significantly higher in the DC group compared with the CR group. Eighty-eight patients had available 6-month Glasgow Outcome Scale scores. Favourable outcomes were observed in 42 % of DC versus 45 % of CR (p = 0.83). The overall mortality rate was 38 % in DC versus 32 % in CR (p = 0.65). The standardised morbidity ratio (observed/expected unfavourable outcomes) was 0.75 (95 % CI: 0.51-1.07) for DC and 0.90 (95 % CI: 0.57-1.35) for CR.

Conclusions: CR and DC for traumatic ASDH are both commonly used for primary evacuation of ASDH. Primary DC may be more effective than CR for selected patients with ASDH. Class I evidence is required in order to refine the indications for DC following evacuation of ASDH.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Injuries / complications
  • Brain Injuries / mortality
  • Craniotomy / methods*
  • Decompressive Craniectomy / methods*
  • Female
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Glasgow Outcome Scale
  • Hematoma, Subdural, Acute / mortality
  • Hematoma, Subdural, Acute / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Postoperative Complications / mortality
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed