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.