Serial changes in acute extradural hematoma size and associated changes in level of consciousness and intracranial pressure

J Neurosurg. 1988 Apr;68(4):566-70. doi: 10.3171/jns.1988.68.4.0566.


The authors report the cases of 37 patients encountered during the past 4 years who exhibited acute extradural hematoma but were initially treated conservatively because no or only small hematomas were observed on admission. The frequency of hematoma enlargement, hematoma size, and changes in the level of consciousness and intracranial pressure (ICP) were examined in these patients. The hematomas enlarged in 24 (64.9%) of the 37 patients, and attained a maximum thickness of 25 mm or greater in 19 patients (51.3%). The level of consciousness could be closely observed during enlargement of the hematomas in 13 patients: the level remained unchanged in eight, deteriorated in two, and improved in three, indicating relative stability in the state of consciousness despite the marked changes in hematoma size. The patients whose hematoma enlarged after the initial examination included three who underwent initial CT examination 5 hours after the injury. In five patients enlargement of extradural hematomas was observed unexpectedly during conservative treatment under ICP monitoring. The ICP also remained stable in three patients until the follow-up examination, but showed a rapid increase in two after a period of stability. However, there was no difference in the final size of the hematomas between the patients showing an increase in ICP and those who did not. These findings suggest that extradural hematomas enlarge progressively at rates varying with the condition of the source of hemorrhage. Moreover, a period of stability in the level of consciousness, such as the lucid interval seen in patients with extradural hematoma, is considered to be a period during which compensatory mechanisms can maintain the stability of the intracranial condition during progressive enlargement of the hematoma.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Consciousness*
  • Dura Mater
  • Hematoma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Hematoma / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Pressure*
  • Middle Aged
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed