Hinge craniotomy (HC) has recently been described as an alternative to decompressive craniectomy (DC). Although HC may obviate the need for cranial reconstruction, an analysis comparing HC to DC has not yet been published.
A retrospective review was conducted of 50 patients who underwent cranial decompression (20 with HC, 30 with DC). Baseline demographics, neurological examination results, and underlying pathology were reviewed. Clinical outcome was assessed by length of ventilatory support, length of intensive care unit stay, and survival at discharge. Control of intracranial hypertension was assessed by average daily intracranial pressure (ICP) for the duration of ICP monitoring and an ICP therapeutic intensity index. Radiographic outcomes were assessed by comparing preoperative and postoperative CT scans for: 1) Rotterdam score; 2) postoperative volume of cerebral expansion; 3) presence of uncal herniation; 4) intracerebral hemorrhage; and 5) extraaxial hematoma. Postoperative CT scans were analyzed for the size of the craniotomy/craniectomy and magnitude of extracranial herniation.
No significant differences were identified in baseline demographics, neurological examination results, or Rotterdam score between the HC and DC groups. Both HC and DC resulted in adequate control of ICP, as reflected in the average ICP for each group of patients (HC = 12.0 ± 5.6 mm Hg, DC = 12.7 ± 4.4 mm Hg; p > 0.05) at the same average therapeutic intensity index (HC = 1.2 ± 0.3, DC = 1.2 ± 0.4; p > 0.05). The need for reoperation (3 [15%] of 20 patients in the HC group, 3 [10%] of 30 patients in the DC group; p > 0.05), hospital survival (15 [75%] of 20 in the HC group, 21 [70%] of 30 in the DC group; p > 0.05), and mean duration of both mechanical ventilation (9.0 ± 7.2 days in the HC group, 11.7 ± 12.0 days in the DC group; p > 0.05) and intensive care unit stay (11.6 ± 7.7 days in the HC group, 15.6 ± 15.3 days in the DC group; p > 0.05) were similar. The difference in operative time for the two procedures was not statistically significant (130.4 ± 71.9 minutes in the HC group, 124.9 ± 63.3 minutes in the DC group; p > 0.05). The size of the cranial defect was comparable between the 2 groups. Postoperative imaging characteristics, including Rotterdam score, also did not differ significantly. Although a smaller volume of cerebral expansion was associated with HC (77.5 ± 54.1 ml) than DC (105.1 ± 65.1 ml), this difference was not statistically significant.
Hinge craniotomy appears to be at least as good as DC in providing postoperative ICP control and results in equivalent early clinical outcomes.