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Journal of Neurosurgical Sciences 2001 September;45(3):141-9

Copyright © 2001 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

lingua: Inglese

Post-traumatic hydrocephalus

Licata C., Cristofori L., Gambin R., Vivenza C., Turazzi S.

Department of Neurosurgery, City Hospital of Verona, Verona, Italy


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Background. Surgical treatment of ventricular dilatation following severe head trauma (GCS <8) remains controversial due to the difficulty to distinguish brain atrophy-related ventriculomegaly from active, symptomatic ventricular dilatation. Consequently, the reported incidence of post-traumatic hydrocephalus in literature varies greatly from 0.7-29%. The presence of ventricular dilatation following severe head trauma should be considered and demands investigation, based also on satisfactory results obtained with cerebrospinal fluid (CSP) shunting,
Methods. Ninety-eight patients with post-traumatic hydrocephalus undergoing CSF shunting were selected for this study among 4,044 patients with severe head trauma treated from 1972 to 1999 at the Department of Neurosurgery at the City Hospital of Verona. Patients included 82 (84%) males and 16 (16%) women, ranging from one month to 83 years (mean age; 39 years). In 24 (24%) cases, the brain trauma lesion was single, while in 74 (76%) cases the patient suffered multiple cranio-cerebral lesions. The total number of lesions was 230 including 214 (93%) supratentorial and 16 (7%) posterior cranial fossa (PCF) lesions. Seventy-nine operations were performed on 59 (60%) patients. The onset of hydrocephalus was immediate after trauma in 14 (14%) cases, whereas a delayed onset was observed within 30 days in 44 (45%) cases, between one-four months in 30 (31%) cases and between four-six months in 10 (10%) cases. Of the 98 patients in this study, 15 were treated with an external CSF shunt and 83 underwent internal CSF shunting.
Results. Long-term results of the 15 patients with external shunts demonstrated good recovery in 13% while 87% of cases resulted in death. In the 83 cases of internal shunts, despite severe preoperative conditions (75% in coma or persistent coma), the results were as follows: good recovery in 37 (45%) patients, partial disability in nine (11%), persistent coma in 29 (35%) and death in seven (8%) cases.
Conclusions. Post-traumatic hydrocephalus is a complication that must always be considered in cases of severe head trauma (GCS <8) in young patients presenting added neurological deficits, ceased clinical improvement (ceased improvement after initial improvement), increased hypertonia, surgical flap tension or CSF accumulation. The results of this study suggest the necessity to treat post-traumatic ventricular dilatation with aggressive surgery and CSF shunting, based on favorable outcome seen even in coma and persistent coma patients.

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