OBJECTIVE: Decompressive hemicraniectomy has been proposed as a potential treatment strategy in patients with poor-grade aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage presenting with focal intracerebral hemorrhage causing significant mass effect. Although hemicraniectomy improves overall survival rates, the long-term quality of life (QoL) for survivors in this patient population has not been reported.
METHODS: Using adjudicated outcome assessments, we compare long-term clinical outcomes and QoL between a group of patients with poor-grade aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage receiving decompressive hemicraniectomy (n = 12) and a control group of similar patients managed more conservatively (n = 10).
RESULTS: Patients receiving decompressive hemicraniectomy experienced a statistically insignificant decrease in short-term mortality compared with controls (25 versus 42%); however, long-term QoL in hemicraniectomy survivors was generally poor. Furthermore, hemicraniectomy patients did not experience an increase in mean quality-adjusted life years over control patients (2.31 versus 2.22 yr).
CONCLUSION: Decompressive hemicraniectomy prolongs short-term survival in patients with poor-grade aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage with associated intracerebral hemorrhage; however, this trend is not statistically significant, and the overall QoL experienced by survivors is poor. Decompressive hemicraniectomy may be indicated if performed early in a select subset of patients. On the basis of our preliminary data, large prospective studies to investigate this issue further may not be warranted.