Evolution of brain tissue injury after evacuation of acute traumatic subdural hematomas

Roman Hlatky, Alex B. Valadka, J. Clay Goodman, Claudia S. Robertson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Acute traumatic subdural hematoma complicated by brain parenchymal injury is associated with a 60 to 90% mortality rate. Early surgical evacuation of the mass lesion is essential for a favorable outcome, but the severity of the underlying brain injury determines the outcome, even when surgery has been prompt. The purpose of this study was to analyze tissue biochemical patterns in the brain underlying an evacuated acute subdural hematoma to identify a characteristic pattern of changes that might indicate evolving brain injury. METHODS: Prospectively collected data from 33 patients after surgical evacuation of acute subdural hematoma were analyzed. Both a brain tissue oxygen tension probe and an intracerebral microdialysis probe were placed in brain tissue exposed at surgery. On the basis of the postoperative clinical course, the patients were divided into three groups: patients with early intractable intracranial hypertension, patients with evolution of delayed traumatic injury (DTI), and patients with an uncomplicated course (the no-DTI group). RESULTS: The overall mortality rate was 46%, with 100% mortality in the intracranial hypertension group (five patients). Mortality in the DTI group was 53% compared with only 9% in the no-DTI group (P = 0.002). There were no significant differences in the initial computed tomographic scan characteristics, such as thickness of the subdural hematoma or amount of midline shift, among the three groups. Physiological variables, as well as the microdialysate measures of brain biochemistry, were markedly different in the intracranial hypertension group compared with the other groups. Differences between the other two groups were more subtle but were significant. Significantly lower values of brain tissue oxygen tension (14 ± 8 mm Hg versus 27 ± 14 mm Hg) and higher dialysate values of lactate and pyruvate were documented in patients who developed a delayed injury compared with patients with uncomplicated courses (4.1 ± 2.3 mmol/L versus 1.7 ± 0.7 mmol/L for lactate, and 104 ± 47 μmol/L versus 73 ± 54 μmol/L for pyruvate at 24 h after injury). CONCLUSION: Evolution of DTI in the area of brain underlying an evacuated subdural hematoma is associated with a significant increase in mortality. Postoperatively decreasing brain tissue oxygen tension and increasing dialysate concentrations of lactate and pyruvate in this area may warn of evolving brain injury and evoke further diagnostic and therapeutic activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1318-1323
Number of pages6
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain tissue oxygen tension
  • Lactate
  • Microdialysis
  • Subdural hematoma
  • Traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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