Surgical treatment of spontaneous spinal epidural hematoma: a 5-year experience

Cheng-Chih Liao, Po-Chuan Hsieh, Tzu-Kang Lin, Chih-Lung Lin, Yang-Lan Lo, Sai-Cheung Lee
Journal of Neurosurgery. Spine 2009, 11 (4): 480-6

OBJECT: Spontaneous spinal epidural hematoma (SSEH) is a rare disease. The goal of this study was to clarify the treatment results and management options in SSEH.

METHODS: Patients with SSEH who were surgically treated in the authors' center between June 2003 and June 2008 were included in this study. Patients were treated as early as possible if their neurological deficits were incomplete or had been complete for 12 hours or less. The patients were assigned to 1 of 2 groups based on completeness of preoperative cord dysfunction (complete vs incomplete deficit). Surgical outcomes of the 2 groups were compared by functional performance, coded as Nurick grades at 1, 3, and 6 months after the operation. Also compared were duration of hospital stay and the number of days needed to regain the ability to function independently (defined as Nurick Grades 1 and 2) after the operation.

RESULTS: There were 17 patients (7 female and 10 male) with pathologically confirmed SSEH. Coagulopathy, greater size (length) of SSEH, and preoperative complete spinal dysfunction were found to contribute to poor postoperative functional recovery (p < 0.05). Patients with incomplete preoperative deficits (ASIA Impairment Scale Grades B, C, and D) were able to achieve functional independent recovery within a month after surgery and had significantly better outcomes (lower Nurick grades) at 1, 3, and 6 months postoperatively than those with complete deficits (p < 0.001, p = 0.027, and p = 0.027, respectively). Median time to independent functional recovery and median length of hospital stay were significantly shorter in patients with incomplete preoperative deficits than in those with complete deficits (6 vs 110 and 9 vs 58 days, respectively; both p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Impaired preoperative hemostasis contributes to larger size of SSEH, high probability of postoperative recurrence of spinal epidural hematoma, and poor functional recovery following surgical evacuation. Incomplete spinal cord dysfunction before surgery predicts good outcome and warrants emergent evacuation of SSEH especially in the cervical and thoracic regions, where the clots are located in proximity to the spinal cord.

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