The suboccipital approach used for cerebellopontine angle tumors, microvascular decompression, vestibular nerve section, and other procedures has been associated with significant postoperative headache. This study was undertaken to evaluate retrospectively the incidence and management of headaches in these patients.
Operation logs from 1988 through 1993 were reviewed to identify patients who underwent lateral suboccipital craniotomy or craniectomy. The nature of the operation, preoperative and postoperative complaints of headache, treatment for postoperative headache, and the use of primary cranioplasty were recorded from the medical records.
Fifty-six suboccipital approaches were performed by the senior authors between 1988 and 1990. Seven patients had debilitating postoperative headaches. None responded to conservative management, and all underwent secondary cranioplasty. All seven patients showed significant improvement in their pain, with four of seven requiring no other treatment (follow-up from 15 to 38 months). Fifty patients underwent cranioplasty at the time of their initial operation, from 1991 to 1993. No case of debilitating headache was identified postoperatively in these patients.
Cranioplasty at the time of lateral craniectomy appears to reduce the incidence of debilitating postoperative headache.
© 1996, The American Journal of Otology, Inc.