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Epidural Hematoma Treated Conservatively: When to Expect the Worst.

BACKGROUND: The Brain Trauma Foundation's 2006 surgical guidelines have objectively defined the epidural hematoma (EDH) patients who can be treated conservatively. Since then, the literature has not provided adequate clues to identify patients who are at higher risk for EDH progression (EDHP) and conversion to surgical therapy. The goal of our study was to identify those patients.

METHODS: We carried a retrospective review over a 5-year period of all EDH who were initially triaged for conservative management. Demographic data, injury severity and history, neurological status, use of anticoagulants or anti-platelets, radiological parameters, conversion to surgery and its timing, and Glasgow Outcome Scale were analyzed. Bivariate association and further logistic regression were used to point out the significant predictors of EDHP and conversion to surgery.

RESULTS: 125 patients (75% of all EDH) were included. The mean age was 39.1 years. The brain injury was mild in 62.4% of our sample and severe in 14.4%. Only 11.2% of the patients required surgery. Statistical comparison showed that younger age (p< 0.0001) and coagulopathy (p=0.009) were the only significant factors for conversion to surgery. There was no difference in outcomes between patients who had EDHP and those who did not.

CONCLUSIONS: Most traumatic EDH are not surgical at presentation. The rate of conversion to surgery is low. Significant predictors of EDHP are coagulopathy and younger age. These patients need closer observation because of a higher risk of EDHP. Outcome of surgical conversion was similar to successful conservative management.

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