These findings emphasize the need for a thorough differential diagnosis to be done when the presence of a subdural hematoma exists as well as the avoidance of any presumption of causation prior to the appropriate testing being done.
The cases of 30 infants with chronic subdural hematoma treated surgically between 1978 and 1987 (after the introduction of computerized tomography) were reviewed. This series was limited to infants presenting with increased intracranial pressure, neurological deficits, or developmental retardation. Nineteen patients were male and 11 were female, ranging in age from 1 to 14 months (average 6.1 months). The surgical treatment was initiated with percutaneous subdural tapping which was repeated periodically, if indicated, for 2 weeks. If the patients failed to respond to subdural tapping, subdural-peritoneal shunting was installed. The follow-up periods were from 3 months to 9 years 8 months (average 4 years 10 months). Computerized tomography at that time disclosed disappearance or minimal collection of subdural fluid in 28 cases (93%) and a significant collection (greater than 5 mm) in two (7%). Neurological examination revealed that the patients were “normal” in 17 cases (57%), “mildly or moderately disabled” in nine (30%), and “severely disabled” in four (13%). The majority of disabled patients had lesions secondary to infantile acute subdural hematoma, child abuse, or hemorrhagic diathesis. These results indicate that the treatment protocol in the present series is acceptable for the elimination of subdural hematoma. Together, early diagnosis and treatment of the etiological conditions causing the lesion are indispensable for obtaining a satisfactory neurological outcome.