Marked reduction in wound complication rates following decompressive hemicraniectomy with an improved operative closure technique

Michael E. Sughrue, Orin G. Bloch, Geoffrey T. Manley, Shirley I. Stiver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Although decompressive hemicraniectomy with dural expansion and bone flap removal is a potentially life-saving procedure, concerns remain regarding the morbidity associated with this approach. We and others have noted the high rate of wound complications resulting from this technique, often associated with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) absorption problems. Here, we present our experience with an improved technique for wound closure after unilateral decompressive hemicraniectomy with a wide cruciate durotomy. Data for all patients who underwent a decompressive hemicraniectomy at our institution from October 2005 to October 2009 were gathered prospectively. Starting in mid 2008, we adopted an alternate approach to operative wound closure, which involved skin closure with a running Monocryl absorbable stitch, and prolonged subgaleal drainage. We compared the rates of wound complication using this approach with those obtained with earlier conventional closure techniques. Over a 1 year period, we dramatically reduced the rate of wound complications in patients undergoing hemicraniectomy at our hospital using this new (Monocryl technique, 0% (n = 29) compared to other techniques, 35% (n = 98), chi-squared [χ 2] p < 0.001). Patients closed using our new technique experienced markedly reduced rates of wound infection (p < 0.01), and CSF leak (p < 0.05), compared to other, more standard, techniques. Thus, attention to closure of hemicraniectomy wounds can markedly reduce the rate of wound complications, thus improving the risk-to-benefit ratio of this procedure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1201-1205
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Complication
  • Hemicraniectomy
  • Infection
  • Wound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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