Burr-Hole Craniostomy for Chronic Subdural Hematomas by General Surgeons in Rural Kenya

World J Surg. 2018 Jan;42(1):40-45. doi: 10.1007/s00268-017-4143-z.


Introduction: Chronic subdural hematoma (cSDH) is a common condition that causes significant morbidity and mortality. In rural sub-Saharan Africa, there are very few neurosurgeons. Yet, cSDH is treatable by relatively simple surgical intervention with potential for rapid clinical improvement.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective chart review of all patients with cSDH who underwent burr-hole trephination at Tenwek Hospital, Kenya, between July 2014 and July 2016. We extracted and compared the clinical presentation, risk factors, operative details, and outcomes.

Results: A total of 119 patients were identified with a mean age of 61.3 years. The majority were men (80%). The main predisposing factors were trauma (54.6%) and alcohol intake (34.4%). Patients were generally managed with two burr-holes, irrigation, and a subdural drain, remaining for a median of 2 days. Operations were assisted by general surgery residents under direct supervision of senior residents (46), general surgeons (65), and neurosurgeons (8). Complications included recurrence (5.2%), subdural empyema (2.5%), postoperative seizures (3.4%), and mortality (6.7%). Improvement of symptoms was noted in 91% of all patients.

Conclusion: Operative management of cSDH can be safely performed in rural facilities by general surgeons familiar with the procedure and with the institutional resources. The majority of patients had satisfactory outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Clinical Competence
  • Craniotomy / methods
  • Drainage / methods
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / methods
  • Female
  • Hematoma, Subdural, Chronic / etiology
  • Hematoma, Subdural, Chronic / surgery*
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Kenya
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Period
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Rural Health Services
  • Seizures / etiology
  • Trephining / adverse effects
  • Trephining / education
  • Trephining / methods*
  • Young Adult