Subdural tension pneumocephalos

Report of two cases

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  • 1 Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Presbyterian-University Hospital, and The Montefiore Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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✓ Two patients developed subdural tension pneumocephalus after undergoing posterior fossa surgery performed in the sitting position. The mechanism for entry of air into the intracranial compartment is analogous to the entry of air into an inverted soda-pop bottle. As the fluid pours out, air bubbles to the top of the container. We have thus referred to this as the “inverted pop-bottle syndrome.” Computerized tomography provided prompt diagnosis and confirmed brain displacement. Twist-drill aspiration of the air resulted in improvement in both patients, although one patient subsequently died from an intracerebellar hemorrhage. Tension pneumocephalus appears to be another potential complication of posterior fossa surgery in the sitting position. This condition is easily diagnosed and treated, and should be considered whenever a patient fails to recover as expected following posterior fossa surgery.

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Contributor Notes

Address reprint requests to: L. Dade Lunsford, M.D., 9402 Presbyterian-University Hospital, 230 Lothrop Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213.
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