Neurosurgery Department, University General Hospital of Alicante, Foundation for the Promotion of Health and Biomedical Research in the Valencian Region (FISABIO), Alicante, Spain
They are arbitrarily defined as those hematomas presenting 21 days or more after injury. These numbers are not absolute, and a more accurate classification of a subdural hematoma usually is based on imaging characteristics.
Later, in 1914, Trotter launched the theory of traumatic brain injury and the consecutive lesion of the “bridging veins”, as being the cause of what he called “hemorrhagic subdural cyst”.
Usually, this collection has a traumatic etiology.
Chronic subdural hematoma (CSDH) is an increasingly common subtype of head injury, especially in the elderly population.
Chronic subdural hematomas mainly occur amongst elderly people and usually develop after minor head injuries.
In younger patients, subdural collections may be related to hypertension, coagulopathies, vascular abnormalities, and substance abuse.
A retrospective review of 239 patients undergoing surgery for CSDH over a period of six years (2006-2011). The majority of patients (63%) in the non-trauma group were receiving anticoagulants and/or antiplatelet agent therapy prior to CSDH presentation, compared to 42% in the trauma group. 2).
Unilateral chronic subdural hematoma.
Chronic subdural hematoma (CSDH) is considered to be an angiogenic disease.
In the acute stage, hemostasis is achieved through activation of coagulation cascades and formation of a blood clot. It is subsequently reorganized and reabsorbed following activation of the fibrinolytic cascade. For unknown reasons, however, this process often fails in the elderly, where an inflammatory reaction triggers the formation of a neovascularized membrane surrounding the clot 3).
It is postulated that activation of fibrinolysis within the hematoma might sustain a local coagulopathy which would promote low-volume bleeding from the outer membrane of the clot 4) 5). This prevents resolution of the subdural collection, which then becomes “chronic”.
Persistent activation of the angiopoietin and their receptor Tie 2 system in addition to high levels of VEGF may keep the vasculature in a destabilized condition and may account for the continuous formation of new and immature blood vessels resulting in massive plasma extravasation and repeated bleeding episodes. This provide new evidence in favor of pro-angiogenic mechanisms playing an important role in the pathophysiology of chronic subdural hematoma (CSH) 6).
Studies have suggested that local anticoagulation and inflammatory changes may be important in its pathogenesis. Most studies have used a basic bivariate statistical analysis to assess complex immunological responses in patients with this disorder, hence a more sophisticated multivariate statistical approach might be warranted.
Thirteen assigned pro-inflammatory (TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-2, IL-2R, IL-6, IL-7, IL-12, IL-15, IL-17, CCL2, CXCL8, CXCL9 and CXCL10) and five assigned anti-inflammatory (IL-1RA, IL-4, IL-5, IL-10 and IL-13) cytokines from blood and hematoma fluid samples were examined. Exploratory factor analysis indicated two major underlying immunological processes expressed by the cytokines in both blood and hematoma fluid, but with a different pattern and particularly regarding the cytokines IL-13, IL-6, IL-4 and TNF-α. Scores from confirmatory factor analysis models exhibited a higher correlation between pro- and anti-inflammatory activities in blood (r = 0.98) than in hematoma fluid samples (r = 0.92). However, correlations of inflammatory processes between blood and hematoma fluid samples were lower and non-significant.
Three major mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade transmitters in the outer membrane of CSDH was assessed. Eleven patients whose outer membrane and CSDH fluid were successfully obtained during trepanation surgery were included in a study. Expression of extracellular signal regulated kinase (ERK), phosphorylated (p)-ERK, p38, p-p38, c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), p-JNK, and actin was examined by western blotting and immunostaining. Aoyama et al. examined whether CSDH fluid could activate MAPKs in cultured endothelial cells or fibroblasts in vitro. Western blot analysis showed that p-ERK was present in all samples, while p-p38 and p-JNK were detected, but not in all cases. Immunostaining showed that all three p-MAPKs were expressed in vascular endothelium. However, only p-ERK was expressed in fibroblasts. Expression of p-extracellular signal-regulated kinase kinase (MEK) and p-ERK in endothelial cells and fibroblasts was significantly induced immediately after treatment with CSDH fluid, while p-p38 and p-JNK expression was significantly induced in endothelial cells 60 min after treatment, but not in fibroblasts. Activation of MEK was significantly inhibited by treatment with antibodies directed against interleukin-6 and vascular endothelial growth factor in endothelial cells, but not in fibroblasts. Inflammatory cytokines and growth factors in CSDH fluids might activate major MAPKs in endothelial cells, which might be associated with neovascularization in the outer membrane of CSDH. These MAPK pathways could become novel targets for treatment of CSDHs 7).
It is delimited by an outer and inner membrane. In between are blood, plasma, cerebrospinal fluid, membranes, and a mixture of inflammatory angiogenic fibrinolytic and coagulation factors. These factors maintain a self-perpetuating cycle of bleeding, lysis, and growing of neo-membranes and neo-capillaries 8).
Patients with unilateral chronic subdural hematoma had more frequent occurrence of hemiparesis than the patients with bilateral chronic subdural hematoma. It took the left-sided chronic subdural hematomas less time (about 200 hours earlier) than the right-sided ones to present its symptoms although the average hematoma diameter value was almost the same.
The site and the form of intracranial lesion-chronic subdural hematoma could have a great influence on neurological and functional condition in a patient. Although the length of time required for making diagnosis as well as clinical symptoms greatly differ and the latter are not always so clear, physicians should maintain a high level of suspicion for this disease and thus contribute to prompt diagnosis and better clinical outcome of patients 9).
Its clinical symptomatology often debuting with memory and attention disorders, so that the patient is usually referred to psychiatrists or neurologists, only a paraclinical investigation (CT scan or MRI) being able to establish the diagnosis. Even the appearance of the lateral signs is subjected to many diagnosis confusions because patients deny the existence of a trauma in over 50% of the cases 12).
Density of the chronic subdural hematoma (cSDH) is variable. It often appears to be mixed density. Multiple densities of cSDH may result from multiple episodes of trauma, usually in the aged. It is hard to remember all the trivial traumas for the patients with the mixed density cSDHs. .
The cSDHs can be classified into four groups; hypodensity, homogeneous isodensity, layered type, and mixed type on the basis of CT scans 14).
CT-scan is able to provide the diagnosis of chronic subdural hematoma in more than 90% of the cases. It usually shows a peri-cerebral fluid collection along the convexity, with a convex outer border, and an irregular concave inner border. The density of the collection depends on the age of the hematoma. The main difficulties, in term of diagnosis, result from bilateral isodense chronic subdural hematoma, and differential diagnosis between hematoma, hygroma, and empyema. Some rare localisations can sometimes be seen (posterior fossa, skull base…). A double density with a sedimentation level, or heterogeneity of the hematoma, can sometimes be seen too. Chronic subdural hematoma is demonstrated by MRI in almost 100% of the cases. The intensity of the collection, in T1 and T2 sequences, depends on the age of the hematoma 15).
Subdural effusion in the setting of dural metastasis is very rare and may be difficult to be distinguished from chronic subdural hematoma. Such lesions could be missed and could be the cause of recurrence in CSDH. A contrast-enhanced brain CT scan is recommended to diagnose dural metastases.
Rosai–Dorfman disease may be mistaken for a CSDH on imaging. This disease is an uncommon, benign systemic histioproliferative disease characterized by massive lymphadenopathy, particularly in the head and neck region, and is often associated with extranodal involvement. CSDH can also develop in multifocal fibrosclerosis (MFS) which is a rare disorder of unknown etiology, characterized by chronic inflammation with dense fibrosis and lymphoplasmacytic infiltration into the connective tissue of various organs. The mechanism of the formation of CSDH is presumed to involve reactive granular membrane together with subdural collection. On the other hand, the extramedullary erythropoiesis within CSDH can be confused with metastatic malignant tumors, such as lymphoma, carcinoma, and malignant melanoma 16).
A 44-year old woman with gastric adenocarcinoma was presented with headache and a hypodense subdural collection in right fronto-parietal in brain CT. Burr-hole irrigation was performed with the impression of chronic subdural hematoma, but nonhemorrhagic xantochromic fluid was evacuated without malignant cell. Brain CT on the 11th day depicted fluid re-accumulation and noticeable midline shift, necessitating craniotomy and removing the affected dura.
Because the affected dura can be supposed as the main source of subdural effusion, resection of the involved dura is obligatory for the appropriate palliative management of such patients 17).
Routine post-operative CT brain for burr hole drainage of CSDH may be unnecessary in view of the good predictive value of pre-operative volume, and also because it is not predictive of the clinical outcome 18).
Scheduled postoperative cranial imaging with indwelling drains was not shown to be beneficial and misses information of intracranial damage inflicted by removal of drains. Brokinkel et al recommend CT-scanning after drainage removal 19).
Chronic subdural hematoma (CSDH) is one of the most common clinical entities in daily neurosurgical practice which carries a most favorable prognosis. However, because of the advanced age and medical problems of patients, surgical therapy is frequently associated with various complications.
The National Audit of Chronic Subdural Haematoma is collecting data prospectively in order to answer “ how are patients managed in the UK and what are their outcomes? ” . A collaborative process, which was overseen by the Academic Committee of the Society of British Neurological Surgeons (SBNS), led to the development of the first set of national audit standards for chronic subdural haematoma (CSDH) on the basis of best available evidence 20).
The Audit has already collected data on over 700 patients and has therefore become the largest multicentre prospective study of CSDH worldwide, has helped to firmly establish the feasibility of collaborative research networks in the field of neurosurgery.
Establishment of collaborative networks together with the developing neurosurgical research infrastructure will ensure a bright future for clinical research in neurosurgery 21).
A high mortality index in the postoperative period was found in patients with INR (international normalized ratio) values greater than 1.25 and/or thrombocytopenia (p<0.001 and p=0.004 respectively) 22).
Surgical drainage of chronic SDHs in nonagenarians and centenarians is associated with lower incidence of inpatient death and higher 30-day and 6-month survival rates 23).
A study aimed to quantify the heterogeneity of data elements in the pre-operative, operative, and post-operative phases of care, and build the basis for the development of a set of common data elements (CDEs) for CSDH. This systematic review adhered to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement and was registered with the PROSPERO register of systematic reviews (CRD42014007266). All full-text English studies with more than 10 patients (prospective) or more than 100 patients (retrospective) published after 1990 examining clinical outcomes in CSDH were eligible for inclusion. One hundred two eligible studies were found. Only 40 studies (39.2%) reported the main presenting symptom/feature and 24 (23.5%) reported additional symptoms/features. Admitting neurological/functional status was classified by the Glasgow Coma Scale (25 studies; 24.5%), the Markwalder Score (26 studies; 25.5%) and the modified Rankin Scale (three studies; 2.9%). Fifty-four studies (52.9%) made some mention of patient comorbidities and 58 studies (56.9%) reported the proportion or excluded patients on anticoagulant medication. Eighteen studies (17.6%) reported baseline coagulation status. Sixty-four studies (62.7%) stratified or assessed severity based on radiological findings, although the methods used varied widely. There was variable reporting of surgical technique and post-operative care; 32 studies (31.4%) made no mention of whether the operations were performed under general or local anesthetic. This study, a part of the Core Outcomes and Common Data Elements in CSDH (CODE-CSDH) project, confirms and quantifies the heterogeneity of data elements collected and reported in CSDH studies to date. It establishes the basis for the consensus-based development of a set of common data elements, facilitating robust cross-study comparisons and resulting improvements in patient outcomes 24).
Matsumoto et al. analyzed 492 consecutive patients with CSDH between January 2010 and October 2015. First, we analyzed the clinical factors and compared them between patients with or without brain herniation signs on admission. Second, we compared clinical factors between patients with or without completion of brain herniation after operation among patients who had brain herniation signs on arrival. Eleven (2.2%) patients showed brain herniation signs on arrival, and six patients (1.2%) progressed to complete brain herniation. Patients with brain herniation signs on arrival were significantly older (P = 0.03) and more frequently hospitalized with a concomitant illness (P < 0.0001). Niveau formation (P = 0.0005) and acute-on CSDH (P = 0.0001) on computed tomography were also more frequently seen in patients with brain herniation signs. Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that age older than 75 years (OR 2.16, P < 0.0001), niveau formation (OR 3.09, P < 0.0001), acute-on CSDH (OR 14, P < 0.0001), and admitted to another hospital (OR 52.6, P < 0.0001) were independent risk factors for having had brain herniation signs on arrival. On the other hand, having a history of head injury (P = 0.02) and disappearance of the ambient cistern (P = 0.0009) were significantly associated with completion of brain herniation. The prognosis was generally poor if the patient had presented with brain herniation signs on admission. Our results demonstrate that the diagnosis is often made late, despite hospitalization for a concomitant illness. When the elderly show mild disturbance of consciousness, physicians except neurosurgeons need to consider the possibility of CSDH regardless of a recent history of head injury 25).
15 patients who underwent operation for CSDHs between June 2012 and June 2014 at Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital of Zhejiang University were included in this retrospective cohort study. The clinical and imaging data of these patients with CSDHs due to spinal CSF leak were retrospectively studied. Fifteen patients, with a mean age of 53.8 ± 8.3 years, underwent operations for CSDH. Hematomas were unilateral in 4 patients and bilateral in 11 patients. Among these patients, eight patients had recurrence of hematomas after operation due to neglect of spinal CSF leak. All patients had fully recovery 26).
All patients with CSDH treated by BHD between January 2012 and December 2014 were included in this study. All patients were classified by symptom, clinical grade, time, location, hematoma density, midline shift, and other characteristics. Pre- and postoperative CT evaluation was performed at 0, 3, and 6 months. Clinical grades were classified with the Markwalder grading score.
Surgical and clinical outcomes were evaluated with the brain expansion rate and modified Rankin Scale (mRS). Brain expansion rate was calculated as the ratio between post- and pre-operative hematoma thickness. Recurrence was defined as the occurrence of symptoms and hematoma on CT within 6 months.
This study included 130 patients over 2 years. Among the variable parameters, young age (<75), iso-density of hematoma on CT, and short duration from symptom to surgery were correlated with good brain expansion. Patients with good brain expansion had fewer recurrences. In terms of mRS, young age, iso-density, and good clinical grade were correlated with good functional outcomes.
Clinicians should be more aware of general conditions and medical problems, especially in elderly patients. Membranectomy should be considered in patients with a long duration of symptoms or hypodense hematomas to promote good brain expansion and good mRS scores 27).
242 cases of chronic SDH. The cSDHs were classified into four groups; hypodensity, homogeneous isodensity, layered type, and mixed type on the basis of CT scans.
The density of cSDH was isodense in 115 patients, hypodense in 31 patients, mixed in 79 cases, and layered in 17 cases. The cSDH was on the left side in 115 patients, on the right side in 70 patients, and bilateral in 40 patients. The history of trauma was identifiable in 122 patients. The etiology could be identified in 67.7% of the hypodense hematomas, while it was obscure in 59.5% of the mixed hematomas.
Mixed density of cSDH results from multiple episodes of trauma, usually in the aged. It is hard to remember all the trivial traumas for the patients with the mixed density cSDHs. Although there were membranes within the mixed density hematomas, burr-holes were usually enough to drain the hematomas 28).
A case of bilateral chronic subdural hematoma (CSDH) in a 75-year-old man after exercise using a vibrating belt machine on the head. He suffered from headache and intermittent left side numbness for ten days. He denied any head injuries except eccentric exercise using a vibrating belt on his own head for 20 days. An MRI revealed bilateral CSDH. The hematoma was isodense on the CT scan. Park et al. made burr-holes on the both sides under local anesthesia and identified the neomembrane and dark red subdural fluid on both sides. In the postoperative CT scan, they found an arachnoid cyst on the left temporal pole. Although the arachnoid cyst itself is asymptomatic, trivial injury such as vibrating the head may cause a CSDH 29).
Attempts to create CSDH have been made in mice, rats, cats, dogs and monkeys. Methods include injection or surgical implantation of clotted blood or various other blood products and mixtures into the potential subdural space or the subcutaneous space. No intracranial model produced a progressively expanding CSDH. Transient hematoma expansion with liquification could be produced by subcutaneous injections in some models. Spontaneous subdural blood collections were found after creation of hydrocephalus in mice by systemic injection of the neurotoxin, 6-aminonicotinamide. The histology of the hematoma membranes in several models resembles the appearance in humans. None of the models has been replicated since its first description.
D'Abbondanza et al. did not find a report of a reproducible, well-described animal model of human CSDH 30).