Role of Decompressive Craniectomy in Ischemic Stroke

Lars-Peder Pallesen, Kristian Barlinn, Volker Puetz
Frontiers in Neurology 2018, 9: 1119
Ischemic stroke is one of the leading causes for death and disability worldwide. In patients with large space-occupying infarction, the subsequent edema complicated by transtentorial herniation poses a lethal threat. Especially in patients with malignant middle cerebral artery infarction, brain swelling secondary to the vessel occlusion is associated with high mortality. By decompressive craniectomy, a significant proportion of the skull is surgically removed, allowing the ischemic tissue to shift through the surgical defect rather than to the unaffected regions of the brain, thus avoiding secondary damage due to increased intracranial pressure. Several studies have shown that decompressive craniectomy reduces the mortality rate in patients with malignant cerebral artery infarction. However, this is done for the cost of a higher proportion of patients who survive with severe disability. In this review, we will describe the clinical and radiological features of malignant middle cerebral artery infarction and the role of decompressive craniectomy and additional therapies in this condition. We will also discuss large cerebellar stroke and the possibilities of suboccipital craniectomy.

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