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Brain Inj. 2013;27(3):286-92. doi: 10.3109/02699052.2012.743180. Epub 2013 Feb 15.

Contralateral haematoma secondary to decompressive craniectomy performed for severe head trauma: a descriptive study of 15 cases.

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  • 1First Affiliated Hospital, College of Medicine, Zhejiang University, Zhejiang Province, PR China.



Contralateral haematoma is an infrequent but severe complication of decompressive craniectomy for head trauma.


A retrospective study was performed of patients developing this complication after decompressive craniectomy for head trauma in the institute. Demographics, mechanism of trauma, time interval between trauma and first operation, time interval between first operation and onset of contralateral haematoma and patients' outcomes were recorded for further analysis.


Fifteen patients developed this complication in the study; most had epidural haematomas, which appeared within the first 12 hours after decompressive craniectomy in 13 patients, including three haematomas that developed during surgical decompression. Contralateral cranial fracture is a major risk factor for this condition. Only one patient recovered to mild disability. All remaining patients had poor outcomes, with Glasgow coma scale scores ≤3, except for one patient who was lost to follow-up. A literature review of similar studies including 36 patients revealed similar characteristics.


Contralateral haematoma secondary to surgical decompression in head trauma can lead to a poor outcome. The prompt detection and removal of the haematoma are keys to management and routine recurrent computed tomography is recommended after the first operation.

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