Chronic subdural hematomas: to drain or not to drain?

Neurosurgery. 1985 Feb;16(2):185-8. doi: 10.1227/00006123-198502000-00010.


A consecutive series of 21 adult patients with chronic subdural hematoma was studied in respect to postoperative resolution of subdural collections and clinical improvement after burr hole evacuation without subdural drainage. This series was compared to a previously studied series of patients with chronic subdural hematoma in whom postoperative closed system drainage had been installed. Using the identical protocol for treatment and postoperative follow-up, we obtained identical results with respect to time-related neurological improvement and persistence of subdural collections in the undrained and drained series, except that the steadily progressive clinical improvement during the early postoperative phase (24 hours) in all cases of the drained series was not universal in the undrained cases. Our study suggests that, to avoid the possibility of early postoperative clinical deterioration, burr hole craniostomy and closed system drainage is advisable. We think that subdural drainage is not necessary when the installation of the drainage system seems to be technically difficult, as it may be in cases with considerable perioperative cortical expansion.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • Craniotomy
  • Drainage
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hematoma, Subdural / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies