Stroke is the most prevalent disease involving the central nervous system. Since medical modalities are sometimes ineffective for the acute edema following massive infarction, surgical decompression may be an effective option when medical treatments fail. The present study was undertaken to assess the outcome and prognostic factors of decompressive surgery in life threatening acute, severe, brain infarction.
We retrospectively analyzed twenty-six patients (17 males and 9 females; average age, 49.7yrs) who underwent decompressive surgery for severe cerebral or cerebellar infarction from January 2003 to December 2006. Surgical indication was based on the clinical signs such as neurological deterioration, pupillary reflex, and radiological findings. Clinical outcome was assessed by Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS).
Of the 26 patients, 5 (19.2%) showed good recovery, 5 (19.2%) showed moderate disability, 2 (7.7%) severe disability, 6 (23.1%) persistent experienced vegetative state, and 8 (30.8%) death. In this study, the surgical decompression improved outcome for cerebellar infarction, but decompressive surgery did not show a good result for MCA infarction (30.8% overall mortality vs 100% mortality). The dominant-hemisphere infarcts showed worse prognosis, compared with nondominant-hemisphere infarcts (54.5% vs 70%). Poor prognostic factors were diabetes mellitus, dominant-hemisphere infarcts and low preoperative Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score.
The patients who exhibit clinical deterioration despite aggressive medical management following severe cerebral infarction should be considered for decompressive surgery. For better outcome, prompt surgical treatment is mandatory. We recommend that patients with severe cerebral infarction should be referred to neurosurgical department primarily in emergency setting or as early as possible for such prompt surgical treatment.