for subdural hematoma is performed to remove a hemorrhage
(blood clot) from around the surface of the brain. The
location of the blood clot is beneath the firm covering of
the brain known as the dura mater, and is therefore called
subdural hematoma. Generally, when a blood clot is relatively
fresh (several hours and up to 7-10 days old), it cannot be
drained through a small hole in the skull, and a large craniotomy
flap (opening in the skull) must be performed.
The patient will
be taken to the operating room and put to sleep under general
anesthesia. The head will be partially shaved, to expose
the area of operation. The head is then placed in three
fixation points (Mayfield head pins). This provides
the ability to keep the head perfectly still during the procedure.
The area where surgery is to be performed is then "prepped
and draped" using an antibiotic solution. Next,
the surgeon will make an incision, and reflect the scalp over
the area of the hematoma. Next, an air powered drill
is used to make a hole in the skull, and a "footplate
attachment" or the drill, or another similar device,
is used to cut open a flap of skull. The dura mater
(tough covering of the brain) is then opened. The hematoma
(blood clot) is now seen, and the surgeon will remove it from
the surface of the brain. Any visible bleeding points
will be cauterized. The surgeon will then close the
dura, and approximate the skull using titanium plates to hold
the bone together. Next the scalp will be closed in
layers, and a pressure monitor may be placed into the brain
to allow the postoperative monitoring of pressure within the
subdural hematoma is a common procedure for surgeons who see
a moderate amount of trauma. Risks can be broken
down into two categories, 1) those related to the operative
site, and 2) those related to the risks of anesthesia.
related to the operative site:
Exposure: The patient is placed in a supine position
(on their back). Insicions in the
scalp may range from small to quite large. There is risk
of non healing of the scalp or bone post operatively.
Although very uncommon, there can be injury to or tearing
of the scalp from the pins on the Mayfield clamp.
The plates used to close the skull could erode through the
skin after the wound has heeled.
The surgery involves exposure of the surface of the brain.
There is the possibility that there may be injury to the
brain. If so, this could result in weakness, seizures,
stroke, paralysis, coma or death. There may be residual
fluid or blood, requiring additional surgery in the future.
Risks: These include such general difficulties,
such as bleeding, infection, stroke, paralysis, coma and
death. Incisions on the low back generally heal well,
but if could be tender, or may heal in an unpleasant
manner. There is also the possibility that the surgery
may not relieve the symptoms for which the procedure was
performed. The problem for which the surgery was performed
may recur, requiring additional surgery in the future.
In addition, although every attempt is made to protect all
areas of the body from pressure on nerves, skin and bones,
injuries to these areas can occur, particularly with prolonged
Anesthesia: Blood clots in the legs, heart attacks,
reaction to the anesthetic, reaction to blood transfusion,
if it given.
There is surprisingly
relatively little pain associated with craniotomies.
Your surgeon will prescribe pain medications for any pain
associated with the incision.
upon discharge, contact our office and set up an appointment
for staple removal if one has not already been set up.
- Take it
easy until seen by the physician. This does not
mean bed rest, but athletic activities during this period
are definitely not recommended. Please give your
incision a chance to heal. Avoid any type of activity
which might risk a blow to the head.
- You may
resume activity as your body permits, but avoid extremes.
For example, walking is fine, but avoid any strenuous
running. USE GOOD JUDGMENT AND COMMON SENSE.
If you have a question, ask your doctor.
- No driving
until cleared with your surgeon. A driving test
may be required, at the discretion of your surgeon.
Even though you may feel fine, your peripheral vision
and reflexes may have been affected, and we want you to
be safe on the road for yourself as well as for others.
- You may
shower after you go home unless otherwise instructed.
Cover the incision with plastic wrap before the shower
and remove it afterward. Change dressing immediately.
You may shower without covering the incision one week
after the staples are out. Follow instructions concerning
care of tapestrips, stitches or staples. Your surgeon
or his nurse clinician will explain the techniques used
in the closure of your incision.
- Sexual activities
- If you notice
swelling, redness or opening of the incision, or if there
is any clear fluid draining from it, please contact your
surgeon immediately! If you develop a fever, stiff
neck or chills, contact the office immediately.
Take your temperature at 4:00 PM daily until the clips
are removed. Call if greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit.
- If you have
a seizure, notify our office or come to the emergency
- If you develop
any new weakness, notify our office.
- If you have
any paralysis or weakness, post-operative care will need
to be tailored to this. If a brace for an arm of
a leg has been prescribed, use it as recommended by your
- If you have
any questions, call our office, and for after hours emergencies,
call the medical society.
- Take your
medications prescribed on discharge, as directed.
- Make sure
to follow up with any other physicians involved in your
care. These may include your family physician, neurologist,
radiation oncologist and oncologist