Head CT is sometimes performed immediately after minor head injury; however, which cases develop into chronic subdural hematoma (CSDH) remains unclear. Here, the authors retrospectively reviewed the rare cases of CSDH treated surgically in which early head CT had been performed after the initial head trauma.
A total of 172 patients (133 male and 39 female, median age 76 years) underwent surgery for CSDH at Gunma University Hospital between April 2010 and December 2017. Among these patients were 23 who had visited Gunma University Hospital or a nearby hospital and had undergone head CT within 7 days after the initial head trauma. Characteristics of the initial head CT were examined to identify indicators of subsequent CSDH.
Among the 23 CSDH cases (17 male and 6 female, median age 80 years), CT scans were obtained on the day of the initial injury (day 0) in 19 cases (25 sides) and 1–7 days after injury in 12 cases (19 sides); scans were obtained during both periods in 8 cases (12 sides), so that a total of 44 sides were examined. These CT scans were divided into two groups according to when they were obtained; cases in which scans were taken during both periods were included in both groups. Head CT performed on the day of injury showed normal findings in 5 (20%) of 25 sides, thin subdural effusion (SDE) ≤ 6 mm in 16 (64%) of 25 sides, thick SDE > 6 mm in 3 (12%) of 25 sides, and acute subdural hematoma (ASDH) in 1 (4%) of 25 sides. CT from 1–7 days after trauma showed thick SDE in 9 (47%) of 19 sides, thin SDE in 8 (42%) of 19 sides, and ASDH in 2 (11%) of 19 sides. A high-density line in the lateral direction (onion skin–like) was found between the skull and the brain in 9 (35%) of 26 sides with SDE on initial CT 0–7 days after the injury.
ASDH was not a common cause of CSDH. Head CT at the time of trauma that precedes CSDH often showed SDE. Such SDE that precedes CSDH was often close to the detection limit of CT immediately after the injury but became more apparent from the day after the injury.