Treatment of right hemispheric cerebral infarction by hemicraniectomy

Stroke. 1990 Jun;21(6):874-81. doi: 10.1161/01.str.21.6.874.


An anecdotal series of nine patients (three men and six women with an average age of 57 years) presented with progressive neurologic deterioration while on medical therapy for large right hemispheric cerebral infarction. Clinical signs of uncal herniation (anisocoria or fixed and dilated pupils, and/or left hemiplegia with right decerebrate posturing) were present in seven of these nine patients. Computerized tomography of the head confirmed mass effect from cerebral edema. It was the clinical judgment of the treating neurologists and neurosurgeons that each of these nine patients would perish unless surgical decompression of the infarcted brain was performed. Accordingly, each was treated with right hemicraniectomy and dural augmentation. Six patients demonstrated neurologic improvement on the first postoperative day. One patient, with a postoperative diagnosis of lung cancer, died 1 month after surgery. The remaining eight patients are currently living with their families with a follow-up period ranging from 5 to 25 months. Patient outcome as evaluated by the Barthel Index indicates that three individuals are functioning with minimal assistance and that the remaining six patients are functionally dependent. After rehabilitative therapy, four patients returned for elective cranioplasty. These results suggest that hemicraniectomy can be an effective lifesaving procedure for malignant cerebral edema after large hemispheric infarction.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Edema / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain Edema / etiology
  • Brain Edema / surgery*
  • Cerebral Infarction / complications*
  • Cerebral Infarction / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Infarction / pathology
  • Craniotomy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Radiography