Dr. Ransohoff: I want to draw your attention to a group of infants with chronic subdural hematoma. The distinctive feature of these patients is marked enlargement of the skull. This megalocephaly was of such a degree in eight patients we treated that they were all admitted to the hospital with a tentative diagnosis of internal hydrocephalus. The presence of subdural hematoma was only discovered in these children at the time of tipping the subdural space through the enlarged anterior fontanelle prior to carrying out ventriculography. When air is injected into the subdural space in these patients, roentgenograms reveal fairly normal-sized cerebral hemispheres surrounded by hugely distended subdural spaces. We believe that it is this disproportion between the size of the boney vault and the size of the underlying brain which makes this group a special therapeutic problem (Fig. 1).
When a surgeon drains blood and fluid from the subdural space, he expects the underlying compressed brain to re-expand and obliterate the remaining cavity. If the lesion is of long standing, he may find it necessary to remove the inner membrane of the subdural hematoma, which is covering the surface of the brain, before the expected re-expansion can occur. However, when the cranium has been so enlarged by bilateral subdural collections that it is considerably larger than the normal-sized brain, the brain cannot be expected to re-expand sufficiently to fill the entire cavity.
We became aware of this therapeutic dilemma after applying the usual techniques of treatment to a 3-month-old infant admitted in 1952 with a definite history of trauma. After the removal of about 350 ml of subdural fluid by daily subdural taps, we made bone flaps, bilateral and frontoparietal, and removed the inner membranes of the subdural hematomas, 1 week apart.
- Copyright © 1957 by the American Academy of Pediatrics