Chronic subdural hematoma treatment

Chronic subdural hematoma treatment

A variety of clinical factors must be taken into account in the treatment of chronic subdural hematoma (cSDH), and the multifaceted treatment paradigms continue to evolve 1).

There is lack of uniformity about the treatment strategies, such as the role of burr holetwist drillcraniotomy, etc., in CSDH amongst various surgeons. There is also disagreement about the use of drainirrigation, and steroid 2) 3).

Surgery is usually the treatment of choice, but conservative treatment may be a good alternative in some situations.

see DECSA trial.

see Middle Meningeal Artery Embolization.

Chronic subdural hematoma surgery

Systematic reviews

Soleman et al., provide a systematic review of studies analysing the conservative treatment options and the natural history of cSDH. Of 231 articles screened, 35 were included in this systematic review. Studies evaluating the natural history and conservative treatment modalities of cSDH remain sparse and are predominantly of low level of evidence. The natural history of cSDH remains unclear and is analysed only in case reports or very small case series. “Wait and watch” or “wait and scan” management is indicated in patients with no or minor symptoms (Markwalder score 0-1). However, it seems that there are no clear clinical or radiological signs indicating whether the cSDH will resolve spontaneously or not (type C recommendation). In symptomatic patients who are not worsening or in a comatose state, oral steroid treatment might be an alternative to surgery (type C recommendation). Tranexamic acid proved effective in a small patient series (type C recommendation), but its risk of increasing thromboembolic events in patients treated with antithrombotic or anticoagulant medication is unclear. Angiotensin converting-enzyme inhibitors were evaluated only as adjuvant therapy to surgery, and their effect on the rate of recurrence remains debatable. Mannitol showed promising results in small retrospective series and might be a valid treatment modality (type C recommendation). However, the long treatment duration is a major drawback. Patients presenting without paresis can be treated with a platelet activating factor receptor antagonist (type C recommendation), since they seem to promote resolution of the haematoma, especially in patients with subdural hygromas or low-density haematomas on computed tomography. Lastly, atorvastatin seems to be a safe option for the conservative treatment of asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic cSDH patients (type C recommendation). In conclusion, the knowledge of the conservative treatment modalities for cSDH is sparse and based on small case series and low grade evidence. However, some treatment modalities seem promising even in symptomatic patients with large haematomas. Randomised controlled trials are currently underway, and will hopefully provide us with good evidence for or against the conservative treatment of cSDH 4).


The aim of a study was to survey aspects of current practice in the UK and Ireland. A 1-page postal questionnaire addressing the treatment of primary (i.e. not recurrent) CSDH was sent to consultant SBNS members in March 2006. There were 112 responses from 215 questionnaires (52%). The preferred surgical technique was burr hole drainage (92%). Most surgeons prefer not to place a drain, with 27% never using one and 58% using drain only in one-quarter of cases or less. Only 11% of surgeons always place a drain, and only 30% place one in 75% of cases or more. The closed subdural-to-external drainage was most commonly used (91%) with closed subgaleal-to-external and subdural-to-peritoneal conduit used less often (3 and 4%, respectively). Only 5% of responders claimed to know the exact recurrence rate. The average perceived recurrence rate among the surgeons that never use drains and those who always use drains, was the same (both 11%). Most operations are performed by registrars (77%). Postoperative imaging is requested routinely by 32% of respondents and 57% of surgeons prescribe bed rest. Ninety four per cent surgeons employ conservative management in less than one-quarter of cases. Forty-two per cent of surgeons never prescribe steroids, 55% prescribe them to those managed conservatively. This survey demonstrates that there are diverse practices in the management of CSDH. This may be because of sufficiently persuasive evidence either does not exist or is not always taken into account. The current literature provides Class II and III evidence and there is a need for randomized studies to address the role of external drainage, steroids and postoperative bed rest 5).

Cenic et al. developed and administered a questionnaire to Canadian Neurosurgeons with questions relating to the management of chronic and subacute subdural hematoma. Our sampling frame included all neurosurgery members of the Canadian Neurosurgical Society.

Of 158 questionnaires, 120 were returned (response rate = 76%). The respondents were neurosurgeons with primarily adult clinical practices (108/120). Surgeons preferred one and two burr-hole craniostomy to craniotomy or twist-drill craniostomy as the procedure of choice for initial treatment of subdural hematoma (35.5% vs 49.5% vs 4.7% vs 9.3%, respectively). Craniotomy and two burr-holes were preferred for recurrent subdural hematomas (43.3% and 35.1%, respectively). Surgeons preferred irrigation of the subdural cavity (79.6%), use of a subdural drain (80.6%), and no use of anti-convulsants or corticosteroids (82.1% and 86.6%, respectively). We identified a lack of consensus with keeping patients supine following surgery and post-operative antibiotic use.

The survey has identified variations in practice patterns among Canadian Neurosurgeons with respect to treatment of subacute or chronic subdural hematoma (SDH). Our findings support the need for further prospective studies and clinical trials to resolve areas of discrepancies in clinical management and hence, standardize treatment regimens 6).


Since glucocorticoids have been used for treatment of cSDH in 1962 their role is still discussed controversially in lack of evident data. On the basis of the ascertained inflammation cycle in cSDH dexamethasone will be an ideal substance for a short lasting, concomitant treatment protocol.

A study is designed as a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial 820 patients who are operated for cSDH and from the age of 25 years are included after obtaining informed consent. They are randomized for administration of dexamethasone (16-16-12-12-8-4 mg/d) or placebo (maltodextrin) during the first 48 hours after surgery. The type I error is 5% and the type II error is 20%. The primary endpoint is the reoperation within 12 weeks postoperative.

This study tests whether dexamethasone administered over 6 days is a safe and potent agent in relapse prevention for evacuated cSDH 7).

Chronic subdural hematoma seizure prophylaxis

Anticoagulation resumption after chronic subdural hematoma



Sahyouni R, Goshtasbi K, Mahmoodi A, Tran DK, Chen JW. Chronic Subdural Hematoma: A Historical and Clinical Perspective. World Neurosurg. 2017 Dec;108:948-953. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2017.09.064. Epub 2017 Sep 19. Review. PubMed PMID: 28935548.
2) , 5)

Santarius T, Lawton R, Kirkpatrick PJ, Hutchinson PJ. The management of primary chronic subdural haematoma: a questionnaire survey of practice in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. Br J Neurosurg. 2008 Aug;22(4):529-34. doi: 10.1080/02688690802195381. PubMed PMID: 18686063.

Cenic A, Bhandari M, Reddy K. Management of chronic subdural hematoma: a national survey and literature review. Can J Neurol Sci. 2005 Nov;32(4):501-6. PubMed PMID: 16408582.

Soleman J, Noccera F, Mariani L. The conservative and pharmacological management of chronic subdural haematoma. Swiss Med Wkly. 2017 Jan 19;147:w14398. doi: smw.2017.14398. PubMed PMID: 28102879.

Cenic A, Bhandari M, Reddy K. Management of chronic subdural hematoma: a national survey and literature review. Can J Neurol Sci. 2005 Nov;32(4):501-6. PubMed PMID: 16408582.

Emich S, Richling B, McCoy MR, Al-Schameri RA, Ling F, Sun L, Wang Y, Hitzl W. The efficacy of dexamethasone on reduction in the reoperation rate of chronic subdural hematoma – the DRESH study: straightforward study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials. 2014 Jan 6;15(1):6. doi: 10.1186/1745-6215-15-6. PubMed PMID: 24393328; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3891985.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

WhatsApp WhatsApp us
%d bloggers like this: