Skin depressions may appear as undesired effects after burr-hole trepanation for the evacuation of chronic subdural hematomas (cSDH). Placement of burr-hole covers to reconstruct skull defects can prevent skin depressions, with the potential to improve the aesthetic result and patient satisfaction. The perception of the relevance of this practice, however, appears to vary substantially among neurosurgeons. The authors aimed to identify current practice variations with regard to the application of burr-hole covers after trepanation for cSDH.
An electronic survey containing 12 questions was sent to resident and faculty neurosurgeons practicing in different parts of the world, as identified by an Internet search. All responses completed between September 2018 and December 2018 were considered. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression were used to analyze the data.
A total of 604 responses were obtained, of which 576 (95.4%) provided complete data. The respondents’ mean age was 42.4 years (SD 10.5), and 86.5% were male. The sample consisted of residents, fellows, junior/senior consultants, and department chairs from 79 countries (77.4% Europe, 11.8% Asia, 5.4% America, 3.5% Africa, and 1.9% Australasia). Skin depressions were considered a relevant issue by 31.6%, and 76.0% indicated that patients complain about skin depressions more or less frequently. Burr-hole covers are placed by 28.1% in the context of cSDH evacuation more or less frequently. The most frequent reasons for not placing a burr-hole cover were the lack of proven benefit (34.8%), followed by additional costs (21.9%), technical difficulty (19.9%), and fear of increased complications (4.9%). Most respondents (77.5%) stated that they would consider placing burr-hole covers in the future if there was evidence for superiority of the practice. The use of burr-hole covers varied substantially across countries, but a country’s gross domestic product per capita was not associated with their placement.
Only a minority of neurosurgeons place burr-hole covers after trepanation for cSDH on a regular basis, even though the majority of participants reported complaints from patients regarding postoperative skin depressions. There are significant differences in the patterns of care among countries. Class I evidence with regard to patient satisfaction and safety of burr-hole cover placement is likely to have an impact on future cSDH management.