Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Extradural haematoma: effect of delayed treatment.

Br Med J 1979; 1 doi: (Published 12 May 1979) Cite this as: Br Med J 1979;1:1240
  1. A D Mendelow,
  2. M Z Karmi,
  3. K S Paul,
  4. G A Fuller,
  5. F J Gillingham


    The case records of patients with extradural haematomas treated in the Lothian region during 1951-60 and 1968-77 were analysed to assess the effect of delay in treatment on morbidity and mortality. Delay was defined as the time from deterioration in level of consciousness to surgical evacuation of clot. There were 83 supratentorial extradural haematomas unassociated with intradural clot or contusion. The mean delay in patients who died was 15.7 hours, while in good-quality survivors the mean delay was 1.9 hours. Mortality decreased from 33.3% during 1951-60 to 8.9% during 1968-77. In addition, good recovery without morbidity occurred in 40.7% of patients in the earlier period and 67.9% in the later period. Mean delays from deterioration in level of consciousness to operation were 9.8 and 2.4 hours in the earlier and later periods respectively. The results emphasise the need for immediate operation in patients deteriorating with extradural haematomas. Direct admission of all head-injured patients to a head and spinal injuries unit staffed by neurosurgeons resulted in minimal delay times as well as a reduction in morbidity and mortality.