Chronic subdural hematoma: the role for craniotomy reevaluated

Neurosurgery. 1993 Jul;33(1):67-72. doi: 10.1227/00006123-199307000-00010.


The management of chronic subdural hematoma in the adult patient is approached with a variety of different surgical techniques. The trend in recent years has been toward treatment with burr holes or twist-drill holes rather than craniotomy. The rationale for this has been based on the assumption that burr holes and twist-drill holes offer equivalent efficacy and lower morbidity and mortality. This viewpoint is not, however, universally accepted, and many surgeons feel that craniotomy is superior to a burr hole for the management of this condition. In a review of 92 patients presenting over a 3-year period with 112 chronic subdural hematomas, 49 underwent craniotomy and 43 underwent burr-hole treatment. The recurrence of hematomas, requiring another operation, occurred in 8.6%; operative mortality was 2.2% at hospital discharge and 4.4% at follow-up. No patient died as a consequence of the operative procedure. There was no significant difference in the incidence of postoperative complications, hematoma recurrence, or operative mortality among the different surgical groups. Previous reports concerning the superiority of burr holes over craniotomy are not substantiated by this review. Although the issue concerning optimal therapy has not been resolved by this review, at this time, craniotomy remains a valid and safe technique for the management of patients with chronic subdural hematoma.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chronic Disease
  • Craniotomy / methods*
  • Drainage
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Hematoma, Subdural / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Recurrence
  • Reoperation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome