Burr hole drainage and burr hole drainage with irrigation to treat chronic subdural hematoma: A systematic review and meta-analysis

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Numerous studies have investigated different operative procedures for treating chronic subdural hematoma (CSDH); however, the results are controversial. This meta-analysis was performed to evaluate the efficacy of burr hole drainage without irrigation (BHD) and burr hole drainage with irrigation (BHDI) for CSDH.


We searched the following electronic databases to identify all studies from their inception to September 2017: Cochrane Library, Science Direct, MEDLINE, EMBASE, Scopus, Google Scholar, the China Biomedical Database (CBM), and the Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI). Randomized clinical trials (RCTs), prospective cohort studies, retrospective observational cohort studies, and case-control studies investigating BHD and BHDI for the treatment of CSDH were included. The Cochrane Collaboration's RevMan 5.3 software was used for meta-analysis.


In total, 7 retrospective cohort studies and 2 RCTs involving 993 participants were included. Comprehensive analysis results of 9 studies indicated that the recurrence of the BHDI was similar to that in BHD (odds ratio [OR] = 1.27, 95% confidence interval [CI] = .61–2.63, P = .53). Moreover, analysis for comparing recurrence in the 2 RCTs was not significantly different (OR = 1.14, 95% CI = .16–8.24, P = .95).In addition, meta-analysis of pneumocephalus (OR = 5.91, 95% CI = .61–56.86, P = .12) and mortality (OR = 0.94, 95% CI 0.14–6.16, P = .95) was not significantly different.


The results of this meta-analysis demonstrated that procedures with or without irrigation in the treatment of CSDH might have similar effect regarding recurrence and complications; therefore, irrigation might not be necessary. However, well-conducted RCTs and high-quality observational studies are still required to corroborate this issue.

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