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Br J Neurosurg. 2008 Aug;22(4):529-34. doi: 10.1080/02688690802195381.

The management of primary chronic subdural haematoma: a questionnaire survey of practice in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Addenbrooke's Hospital, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.


A wide range of treatment modalities are employed in the treatment of chronic subdural haematoma (CSDH). A rational and evidence-based treatment strategy has the potential to optimise treatment for the individual patient and save resources. The aim of this study was to survey aspects of current practice in the UK and Ireland. A 1-page postal questionnaire addressing the treatment of primary (i.e. not recurrent) CSDH was sent to consultant SBNS members in March 2006. There were 112 responses from 215 questionnaires (52%). The preferred surgical technique was burr hole drainage (92%). Most surgeons prefer not to place a drain, with 27% never using one and 58% using drain only in one-quarter of cases or less. Only 11% of surgeons always place a drain, and only 30% place one in 75% of cases or more. The closed subdural-to-external drainage was most commonly used (91%) with closed subgaleal-to-external and subdural-to-peritoneal conduit used less often (3 and 4%, respectively). Only 5% of responders claimed to know the exact recurrence rate. The average perceived recurrence rate among the surgeons that never use drains and those who always use drains, was the same (both 11%). Most operations are performed by registrars (77%). Postoperative imaging is requested routinely by 32% of respondents and 57% of surgeons prescribe bed rest. Ninety four per cent surgeons employ conservative management in less than one-quarter of cases. Forty-two per cent of surgeons never prescribe steroids, 55% prescribe them to those managed conservatively. This survey demonstrates that there are diverse practices in the management of CSDH. This may be because of sufficiently persuasive evidence either does not exist or is not always taken into account. The current literature provides Class II and III evidence and there is a need for randomized studies to address the role of external drainage, steroids and postoperative bed rest.

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