Life-threatening, space occupying, infarction develops in 10-15% of patients after middle cerebral artery infarction (MCAI). Though decompressive craniectomy (DC) is now standard of care in patients with non-dominant stroke, its role in dominant MCAI (DMCAI) is largely undefined. This may reflect the ethical dilemma of saving life of a patient who may then remain hemiplegic and dysphasic. This study specifically addresses this issue.
Materials and Methods:
This retrospective analysis studied patients with DMCAI undergoing DC. Patient records, operation notes, radiology, and out-patient files were scrutinized to collate data. Glasgow outcome scale (GOS), Barthel index (BI) and improvement in language and motor function were evaluated to determine functional outcome.
Eighteen patients between 22 years and 72 years of age were included. 6 week, 3 month, 6 month and overall survival rates were 66.6% (12/18), 64% (11/17), 62.5% (10/16) and 62.5% (10/16) respectively. Amongst ten surviving patients with long-term follow-up, 60% showed improvement in GOS, 70% achieved BI score >60 while 30% achieved full functional independence. In this group, motor power and language function improved in 9 and 8 patients respectively. At last follow-up, 8 of 10 surviving patients were ambulatory with (3/8) or without (5/8) support. Age <50 years corresponded with better functional outcome amongst survivors (P value –0.0068).
Language and motor outcomes after DC in patients with DMCAI are not as dismal as commonly perceived. Perhaps young patients (<50 years) with DMCAI should be treated with the same aggressiveness that non-DMCAI is currently dealt with.