OBJECTIVE: The management of cerebellar infarctions is controversial. The aim of this study was to determine which patients require surgical treatment and which surgical procedure should be performed when a patient with a cerebellar infarction exhibits progressive neurological deterioration.
METHODS: A total of 44 patients (24 male and 20 female patients; average age, 56 yr) were treated at our institution for cerebellar infarctions in the past 8 years. Twenty-five patients received conservative treatment; two patients who were deeply comatose received no treatment. The remaining 17 patients underwent emergency surgery. Of those 17 patients, 8 underwent external ventricular drainage alone, 5 underwent external ventricular drainage as the first treatment plus secondary suboccipital craniectomy, and 4 underwent suboccipital craniectomy, with removal of necrotic tissue, as the first treatment.
RESULTS: Of the 25 conservatively treated patients, 20 experienced good outcomes, 4 experienced moderate outcomes, and 1 died as a result of pulmonary embolism. Of the 17 surgically treated patients, 10 experienced good functional recoveries (7 treated with external ventricular drainage only and 3 treated with drainage followed by suboccipital craniectomy) and 3 survived with mild neurological deficits (one patient underwent ventriculostomy, one suboccipital craniectomy plus external ventricular drainage, and one suboccipital craniectomy only). The overall mortality rate was 13.6% (6 of 44 patients).
CONCLUSION: For patients with worsening levels of consciousness and radiologically evident ventricular enlargement, we recommend external ventricular drainage. We reserve surgical resection of necrotic tissue for patients whose clinical status worsens despite ventriculostomy, those for whom worsening is accompanied by signs of brainstem compression, and those with tight posterior fossae.