Review

Neurosurgical Review

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 155-169

First online:

The surgical management of chronic subdural hematoma

  • Andrew F. DucruetAffiliated withDepartment of Neurological Surgery, Columbia University, College of Physicians & Surgeons Email author 
  • , Bartosz T. GrobelnyAffiliated withDepartment of Neurological Surgery, Columbia University, College of Physicians & Surgeons
  • , Brad E. ZachariaAffiliated withDepartment of Neurological Surgery, Columbia University, College of Physicians & Surgeons
  • , Zachary L. HickmanAffiliated withDepartment of Neurological Surgery, Columbia University, College of Physicians & Surgeons
  • , Peter L. DeRosaAffiliated withDepartment of Neurological Surgery, Columbia University, College of Physicians & Surgeons
  • , Kristen AndersonAffiliated withDepartment of Neurological Surgery, Columbia University, College of Physicians & Surgeons
  • , Eric SussmanAffiliated withDepartment of Neurological Surgery, Columbia University, College of Physicians & Surgeons
  • , Austin CarpenterAffiliated withDepartment of Neurological Surgery, Columbia University, College of Physicians & Surgeons
  • , E. Sander ConnollyJr.Affiliated withDepartment of Neurological Surgery, Columbia University, College of Physicians & Surgeons

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Abstract

Chronic subdural hematoma (cSDH) is an increasingly common neurological disease process. Despite the wide prevalence of cSDH, there remains a lack of consensus regarding numerous aspects of its clinical management. We provide an overview of the epidemiology and pathophysiology of cSDH and discuss several controversial management issues, including the timing of post-operative resumption of anticoagulant medications, the effectiveness of anti-epileptic prophylaxis, protocols for mobilization following evacuation of cSDH, as well as the comparative effectiveness of the various techniques of surgical evacuation. A PubMed search was carried out through October 19, 2010 using the following keywords: “subdural hematoma”, “craniotomy”, “burr-hole”, “management”, “anticoagulation”, “seizure prophylaxis”, “antiplatelet”, “mobilization”, and “surgical evacuation”, alone and in combination. Relevant articles were identified and back-referenced to yield additional papers. A meta-analysis was then performed comparing the efficacy and complications associated with the various methods of cSDH evacuation. There is general agreement that significant coagulopathy should be reversed expeditiously in patients presenting with cSDH. Although protocols for gradual resumption of anti-coagulation for prophylaxis of venous thrombosis may be derived from guidelines for other neurosurgical procedures, further prospective study is necessary to determine the optimal time to restart full-dose anti-coagulation in the setting of recently drained cSDH. There is also conflicting evidence to support seizure prophylaxis in patients with cSDH, although the existing literature supports prophylaxis in patients who are at a higher risk for seizures. The published data regarding surgical technique for cSDH supports primary twist drill craniostomy (TDC) drainage at the bedside for patients who are high-risk surgical candidates with non-septated cSDH and craniotomy as a first-line evacuation technique for cSDH with significant membranes. Larger prospective studies addressing these aspects of cSDH management are necessary to establish definitive recommendations.

Keywords

Subdural hematoma Chronic Anticoagulation Antiplatelet Antiepileptic Burr-hole Craniotomy