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  • Writer's pictureGregory Cannarsa, MD

Exploring Treatment Options for Chronic Subdural Hematoma

A chronic subdural hematoma (cSDH) is a medical condition characterized by the accumulation of blood between the brain's surface and its protective covering, known as the dura mater. This condition typically develops over weeks to months and often affects older adults. While cSDH may initially cause subtle symptoms, it can lead to serious neurological complications if left untreated. Fortunately, various treatment options are available to address this condition and improve patient outcomes.



1. Observation and Non-Surgical Management:

In cases where the cSDH is small, asymptomatic, and not causing significant neurological impairment, a conservative approach of observation might be considered. Regular monitoring through imaging tests, such as CT scans or MRIs, allows healthcare providers to assess whether the hematoma is stable or if intervention becomes necessary.


2. Surgical Evacuation:

For larger or symptomatic chronic subdural hematomas, surgical intervention is often recommended. Surgical evacuation involves removing the accumulated blood and relieving pressure on the brain. There are two primary surgical techniques used for cSDH:

a. Burr Hole Drainage: This minimally invasive procedure involves drilling one or more small holes in the skull (burr holes) to access the hematoma. The blood is then drained through a catheter inserted into the burr hole. Burr hole drainage is generally a safe and effective option, especially for patients who are considered high risk for open surgery due to their age or medical conditions.

b. Craniotomy: In cases of larger or more complex hematomas, a craniotomy might be performed. This procedure involves creating a larger opening in the skull to directly access and remove the hematoma. Craniotomy allows for better visualization of the hematoma and its surrounding structures, making it a suitable choice for cases that require more precision.


3. Minimally Invasive Endovascular Techniques:

Advancements in medical technology have led to the development of minimally invasive techniques for treating cSDH. These approaches aim to reduce the invasiveness of surgery, decrease the risk of complications, and facilitate quicker recovery times:

Middle Meningeal Artery Embolization: An endovascular approach that involves access through the artery of the wrist or leg to block, or embolize, the small artery that gives blood supply to the cSDH. Clinical literature supports the efficacy of this approach in both treating cSDH as well as preventing their recurrence when combined with other approaches.


Postoperative Management:

After surgical intervention for chronic subdural hematoma, patients require careful postoperative management to ensure a smooth recovery and reduce the risk of recurrence. This may involve close monitoring of neurological status, pain management, and prevention of complications such as infection or fluid imbalances. Depending on the surgical approach and patient's overall health, the duration of hospital stay and rehabilitation can vary.


Factors Influencing Treatment Choice:

The choice of treatment for chronic subdural hematoma depends on several factors, including the patient's age, overall health, the size and location of the hematoma, neurological symptoms, and any underlying medical conditions. A multidisciplinary team of neurosurgeons and other medical professionals collaborates to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for each individual case.


Conclusion:

Chronic subdural hematoma is a condition that demands careful consideration and appropriate intervention due to the potential risks it poses to neurological health. Whether through surgical evacuation, minimally invasive techniques, or observation, the treatment approach selected should be tailored to the patient's unique circumstances. Early detection, accurate diagnosis, and timely intervention are crucial to prevent the progression of symptoms and improve patient outcomes. The evolving landscape of medical advancements continues to expand the options available for treating cSDH, offering hope for improved quality of life for affected individuals. If you or a loved one are has recently been diagnosed with a chronic subdural hematoma, please call our office to set up an appointment for further evaluation and discussion.


Dr. Gregory Cannarsa is fellowship-trained Neurosurgeon who practices in Naples, FL.

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