✓ Acute subdural spinal hematoma occurs rarely; however, when it does occur, it may have disastrous consequences. The authors assessed the outcome of surgery for this lesion in relation to causative factors and diagnostic imaging (computerized tomography [CT], CT myelography), as well as eventual preservation of the subarachnoid space.
The authors reviewed 106 cases of nontraumatic acute subdural spinal hematoma (101 published cases and five of their own) in terms of cause, diagnosis, treatment, and long-term outcome.
Fifty-one patients (49%) were men and 55 (51%) were women. In 70% of patients the spinal segment involved was in the lumbar or thoracolumbar spine. In 57 cases (54%) there was a defect in the hemostatic mechanism. Spinal puncture was performed in 50 patients (47%). Late surgical treatment was performed in 59 cases (56%): outcome was good in 25 cases (42%) (in 20 of these patients preoperative neurological evaluation had shown mild deficits or paraparesis, and three patients had presented with subarachnoid hemorrhage [SAH]). The outcome was poor in 34 cases (58%; 23 patients with paraplegia and 11 with SAH).
The formation of nontraumatic acute spinal subdural hematomas may result from coagulation abnormalities and iatrogenic causes such as spinal puncture. Their effect on the spinal cord and/or nerve roots may be limited to a mere compressive mechanism when the subarachnoid space is preserved and the hematoma is confined between the dura and the arachnoid. It seems likely that the theory regarding the opening of the dural compartment, verified at the cerebral level, is applicable to the spinal level too. Early surgical treatment is always indicated when the patient's neurological status progressively deteriorates. The best results can be obtained in patients who do not experience SAH.
In a few selected patients in whom neurological impairment is minimal, conservative treatment is possible.