JOURNAL ARTICLE

Acute subdural hematoma in infancy

Joon-Khim Loh, Chih-Lung Lin, Aij-Lie Kwan, Shen-Long Howng
Surgical Neurology 2002, 58 (3-4): 218-24
12480224

BACKGROUND: Acute subdural hematoma in infants is distinct from that occurring in older children or adults because of differences in mechanism, injury thresholds, and the frequency with which the question of nonaccidental injury is encountered. The purpose of this study is to analyze the clinical characteristics of acute subdural hematoma in infancy, to discover the common patterns of this trauma, and to outline the management principles within this group.

METHODS: Medical records and films of 21 cases of infantile acute subdural hematoma were reviewed retrospectively. Diagnosis was made by computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging. Medical records were reviewed for comparison of age, gender, cause of injury, clinical presentation, surgical management, and outcome.

RESULTS: Twenty-one infants (9 girls and 12 boys) were identified with acute subdural hematoma, with ages ranging from 6 days to 12 months. The most common cause of injury was shaken baby syndrome. The most common clinical presentations were seizure, retinal hemorrhage, and consciousness disturbance. Eight patients with large subdural hematomas underwent craniotomy and evacuation of the blood clot. None of these patients developed chronic subdural hematoma. Thirteen patients with smaller subdural hematomas were treated conservatively. Among these patients, 11 developed chronic subdural hematomas 15 to 80 days (mean = 28 days) after the acute subdural hematomas. All patients with chronic subdural hematomas underwent burr hole and external drainage of the subdural hematoma. At follow-up, 13 (62%) had good recovery, 4 (19%) had moderate disability, 3 (14%) had severe disability, and 1 (5%) died. Based on GCS on admission, one (5%) had mild (GCS 13-15), 12 (57%) had moderate (GCS 9-12), and 8 (38%) had severe (GCS 8 or under) head injury. Good recovery was found in 100% (1/1), 75% (8/12), and 50% (4/8) of the patients with mild, moderate, and severe head injury, respectively. Sixty-three percent (5/8) of those patients undergoing operation for acute subdural hematomas and 62% (8/13) of those patients treated conservatively had good outcomes.

CONCLUSIONS: Infantile acute subdural hematoma if treated conservatively or neglected, is an important cause of infantile chronic subdural hematoma. Early recognition and suitable treatment may improve the outcome of this injury. If treatment is delayed or the condition is undiagnosed, acute subdural hematoma may cause severe morbidity or even fatality.

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