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Michael Fiechter, Jens Fichtner, Sergej Feiler, Radu Olariu, Jürgen Beck, Andreas Raabe, and Christian T. Ulrich

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Ralph T. Schär, Shpend Tashi, Mattia Branca, Nicole Söll, Debora Cipriani, Christa Schwarz, Claudio Pollo, Philippe Schucht, Christian T. Ulrich, Jürgen Beck, Werner J. Z’Graggen, and Andreas Raabe


With global aging, elective craniotomies are increasingly being performed in elderly patients. There is a paucity of prospective studies evaluating the impact of these procedures on the geriatric population. The goal of this study was to assess the safety of elective craniotomies for elderly patients in modern neurosurgery.


For this cohort study, adult patients, who underwent elective craniotomies between November 1, 2011, and October 31, 2018, were allocated to 3 age groups (group 1, < 65 years [n = 1008], group 2, ≥ 65 to < 75 [n = 315], and group 3, ≥ 75 [n = 129]). Primary outcome was the 30-day mortality after craniotomy. Secondary outcomes included rate of delayed extubation (> 1 hour), need for emergency head CT scan and reoperation within 48 hours after surgery, length of postoperative intensive or intermediate care unit stay, hospital length of stay (LOS), and rate of discharge to home. Adjustment for American Society of Anesthesiologists Physical Status (ASA PS) class, estimated blood loss, and duration of surgery were analyzed as a comparison using multiple logistic regression. For significant differences a post hoc analysis was performed.


In total, 1452 patients (mean age 55.4 ± 14.7 years) were included. The overall mortality rate was 0.55% (n = 8), with no significant differences between groups (group 1: 0.5% [95% binominal CI 0.2%, 1.2%]; group 2: 0.3% [95% binominal CI 0.0%, 1.7%]; group 3: 1.6% [95% binominal CI 0.2%, 5.5%]). Deceased patients had a significantly higher ASA PS class (2.88 ± 0.35 vs 2.42 ± 0.62; difference 0.46 [95% CI 0.03, 0.89]; p = 0.036) and increased estimated blood loss (1444 ± 1973 ml vs 436 ± 545 ml [95% CI 618, 1398]; p <0.001). Significant differences were found in the rate of postoperative head CT scans (group 1: 6.65% [n = 67], group 2: 7.30% [n = 23], group 3: 15.50% [n = 20]; p = 0.006), LOS (group 1: median 5 days [IQR 4; 7 days], group 2: 5 days [IQR 4; 7 days], and group 3: 7 days [5; 9 days]; p = 0.001), and rate of discharge to home (group 1: 79.0% [n = 796], group 2: 72.0% [n = 227], and group 3: 44.2% [n = 57]; p < 0.001).


Mortality following elective craniotomy was low in all age groups. Today, elective craniotomy for well-selected patients is safe, and for elderly patients, too. Elderly patients are more dependent on discharge to other hospitals and postacute care facilities after elective craniotomy.

Clinical trial registration no.: NCT01987648 (

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Jürgen Beck, Christian Fung, Christian T. Ulrich, Michael Fiechter, Jens Fichtner, Heinrich P. Mattle, Marie-Luise Mono, Niklaus Meier, Pasquale Mordasini, Werner J. Z’Graggen, Jan Gralla, and Andreas Raabe


Spinal CSF leakage causes spontaneous intracranial hypotension (SIH). The aim of this study was to characterize CSF dynamics via lumbar infusion testing in patients with and without proven spinal CSF leakage in order to explore possible discriminators for the presence of an open CSF leak.


This analysis included all patients with suspected SIH who were treated at the authors’ institution between January 2012 and February 2015. The gold standard for “proven” CSF leakage is considered to be extrathecal contrast accumulation after intrathecal contrast injection. To characterize CSF dynamics, the authors performed computerized lumbar infusion testing to measure lumbar pressure at baseline (opening pressure) and at plateau, as well as pulse amplitude, CSF outflow resistance (RCSF), craniospinal elastance, and pressure-volume index.


Thirty-one patients underwent clinical imaging and lumbar infusion testing and were included in the final analysis. A comparison of the 14 patients with proven CSF leakage with the 17 patients without leakage showed a statistically significantly lower lumbar opening pressure (p < 0.001), plateau pressure (p < 0.001), and RCSF (p < 0.001) in the group with leakage. Sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values for an RCSF cutoff of ≤ 5 mm Hg/(ml/min) were 0.86, 1.0, 1.0, and 0.89 (area under the curve of 0.96), respectively. The median pressure-volume index was higher (p = 0.003), and baseline (p = 0.017) and plateau (p < 0.001) pulse amplitudes were lower in patients with a proven leak.


Lumbar infusion testing captures a distinct pattern of CSF dynamics associated with spinal CSF leakage. RCSF assessed by computerized lumbar infusion testing has an excellent diagnostic accuracy and is more accurate than evaluating the lumbar opening pressure. The authors suggest inclusion of RCSF in the diagnostic criteria for SIH.

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Jürgen Beck, Jan Gralla, Christian Fung, Christian T. Ulrich, Philippe Schucht, Jens Fichtner, Lukas Andereggen, Martin Gosau, Elke Hattingen, Klemens Gutbrod, Werner J. Z'Graggen, Michael Reinert, Jürg Hüsler, Christoph Ozdoba, and Andreas Raabe


The etiology of chronic subdural hematoma (CSDH) in nongeriatric patients (≤ 60 years old) often remains unclear. The primary objective of this study was to identify spinal CSF leaks in young patients, after formulating the hypothesis that spinal CSF leaks are causally related to CSDH.


All consecutive patients 60 years of age or younger who underwent operations for CSDH between September 2009 and April 2011 at Bern University Hospital were included in this prospective cohort study. The patient workup included an extended search for a spinal CSF leak using a systematic algorithm: MRI of the spinal axis with or without intrathecal contrast application, myelography/fluoroscopy, and postmyelography CT. Spinal pathologies were classified according to direct proof of CSF outflow from the intrathecal to the extrathecal space, presence of extrathecal fluid accumulation, presence of spinal meningeal cysts, or no pathological findings. The primary outcome was proof of a CSF leak.


Twenty-seven patients, with a mean age of 49.6 ± 9.2 years, underwent operations for CSDH. Hematomas were unilateral in 20 patients and bilateral in 7 patients. In 7 (25.9%) of 27 patients, spinal CSF leakage was proven, in 9 patients (33.3%) spinal meningeal cysts in the cervicothoracic region were found, and 3 patients (11.1%) had spinal cysts in the sacral region. The remaining 8 patients (29.6%) showed no pathological findings.


The direct proof of spinal CSF leakage in 25.9% of patients suggests that spinal CSF leaks may be a frequent cause of nongeriatric CSDH.