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Table of Contents    
Year : 2014  |  Volume : 62  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 296-302

Remote site intracranial hemorrhage: Our experience and review of literature

1 Department of Neurosurgery, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India
2 Department of Neurosurgery, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Bhubneshwar, Odisha, India

Date of Submission31-Jan-2014
Date of Decision04-Mar-2014
Date of Acceptance02-Jun-2014
Date of Web Publication18-Jul-2014

Correspondence Address:
Vivek Tandon
Department of Neurosurgery, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0028-3886.137027

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How to cite this article:
Garg K, Tandon V, Sinha S, Suri A, Mahapatra AK, Sharma BS. Remote site intracranial hemorrhage: Our experience and review of literature. Neurol India 2014;62:296-302

How to cite this URL:
Garg K, Tandon V, Sinha S, Suri A, Mahapatra AK, Sharma BS. Remote site intracranial hemorrhage: Our experience and review of literature. Neurol India [serial online] 2014 [cited 2021 Dec 2];62:296-302. Available from:


Hemorrhage within the surgical bed frequently complicates a neurosurgical procedure. Postoperative hematoma in the absence of risk factors is reported to occur in about 0.6-1.4% of cases. [1],[2] Known risk factors are coagulopathies and anticoagulant therapy, [3],[4] alcohol abuse [5] and vasculopathies. [5],[6] The surgical bed and the immediately surrounding areas are most often the site of this complication. However, there can be intracranial bleed away from the operative site "remote site bleed" following a neurosurgical procedure.

Remote site bleed following removal of a space occupying lesion or drainage of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is a rare and dreaded complication. It carries significant morbidity and mortality. The location of remote site bleed can be epidural, subdural, or intracerebral [7],[8] and can be supratentorial or infratentorial following a supratentorial or infratentorial surgery. van Gehuchten in 1937 described the first case of remote site bleed, a pontine hemorrhage secondary to a subtemporal decompression for a temporal lobe meningioma. [9] This report describes six patients with remote site bleed following a neurosurgical procedure and reviewed the published literature in this regard.

Remote site bleed is defined as intracranial bleed/hematoma at a site away from the primary surgery site. We retrospectively analyzed data of patients who underwent cranial neurosurgical procedure at our center. Six patients with remote site bleed in the post-operative period were selected and their case records were reviewed [Table 1]. The demographic data, diagnoses, surgical procedure performed, cause of bleed, and final outcomes were reviewed. Patients with antecedent or postoperative coagulopathy were excluded from this study.
Table 1: Summary of our cases

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Medline and Pubmed databases were searched for remote site bleed following cranial neurosurgery using key words like postoperative hematomas, remote hemorrhage, intracerebral hemorrhage, cerebellar hemorrhage, and supratentorial craniotomy, The search found 83 such patients. The data retrieved for analysis included: Indications for surgery, type of surgery done, site of remote bleed, interventions done, and outcomes. [12],[13],[14],[15],[16],[17],[18],[19],[20],[21],[22],[23],[24],[25],[26],[27],[28],[29],[30],[31],[32],[33],[34],[35],[36],[37],[38],[39],[40],[41],[42],[43]

Case summaries of the six patients are provided in [Table 1] and in the images [Figure 1],[Figure 2],[Figure 3],[Figure 4],[Figure 5] and [Figure 6]. The mean age of patients in this series was 35.5 years (range - 13-64 years) and male to female ratio was 1:2. Three patients each were operated for supratentorial and infratentorial pathology. Three patients were operated for tumors, and vestibular schwannoma was the primary pathology in two patients. All of the patients developed supratentorial bleed. Location of remote site bleed was extradural in 3 patients, and subarachnoid hemorrhage, subdural and intraparenchymal in one patient each. All but one patient had good outcome with Glasgow outcome score of 4 or 5.
Figure 1: (a) T2 weighted MRI axial section shows large sylvian fissure arachnoid cyst present in the right side causing mass effect (b) Non contrast CT axial section shows bilateral frontal extradural hematoma with evidence of right temporal craniotomy

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Figure 2: (a) Contrast enhanced axial MRI shows left cerebellopontine angle acoustic neurinoma (b) Non contrast CT axial section shows evidence of left suboccipital craniectomy with evidence of subarachnoid hemorrhage and frontal region hematoma (c and d) 3-D reconstruction images of the digital subtraction angiography show no evidence of aneurysm or arteriovenous malformation

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Figure 3: (a) Non contrast CT axial section shows evidence of previous left sided decompressive craniectomy with subdural collection on the left side (b) Non contrast CT axial section shows presence of multiple intraparenchymal hematomas with subarachnoid and intraventricular haemorrhage

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Figure 4: (a) Contrast enhanced axial MRI shows left cerebellopontine angle acoustic neurinoma (b) Non contrast CT axial section shows left frontoparietal extradural hematoma (c) Non contrast CT axial section after evacuation of hematoma

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Figure 5: (a) Non contrast CT axial sectionshows right cerebellar hematoma (b) Non contrast CT axial section shows left frontoparietal acute subdural hematoma

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Figure 6: (a) Contrast enhanced axial MRI shows left lateral ventricular neurocytoma with hydrocephalous (b) Non contrast CT axial section shows right frontal extradural hematoma (c) Non contrast CT axial section after evacuation of hematoma

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The data of the 89, 83 patients reported in the literature and six patients in this series is given in [Table 2],[Table 3] and [Table 4]. Age of the patients varied from 6-83 years. Vascular etiology was the most common indication for surgery in the supratentorial lesions, whereas neoplastic etiology was the most common indication for surgery in infratentorial lesions. Site of bleed was supratentorial in 73% of patients with supratentorial surgeries, while all patients operated for infratentorial pathologies developed supratentorial bleed. Fifty percent of patients required operative intervention in the infratentorial group, whereas only 16% of the patients required operative intervention in the supratentorial group. Outcome was worse in the patients operated for infratentorial group (44% patients died) as compared to supratentorial group (21% patient died).
Table 2: Summary of remote site bleed patients operated for infratentorial pathologies in literature

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Table 3: Summary of remote side bleed patients operated for supratentorial pathologies in literature

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Table 4: Comparison of patients in two groups

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We observed that mortality in patients where intervention was needed (47%) was higher in comparison to patients managed conservatively (10.7%). This might be because of larger size of hematomas and poor neurological condition of the patients who underwent some sort of intervention.

Postoperative surgical site hematomas can be a life threatening complication in neurosurgery and are commonly due to inadequate intraoperative hemostasis. [16] Compared to them intracerebral haemorrhage occurring "remote" from the site of craniotomy is a rare neurosurgical complication and can lead to significant morbidity and mortality. [1],[3] Different mechanisms have been proposed to explain such a rare occurrence.

The only common implicating factor among the 89 patients reviewed was sudden decompression in case of chronically elevated intracranial pressure (ICP). The other possible factors for postoperative remote site bleed are coagulation disorders and hypertension. However, only one patient in our series had hypertension. Transient hypertensive peaks during the recovery from anesthesia have in the past been considered as an important risk factor. More recently, this theory has been partly refuted as only some patients had documented high (200 mmHg) blood pressure levels in the perioperative period. [17]

Some authors [16],[18],[19] consider that aggressive intraoperative dehydration andCSF removal together with acute obstruction of the venous outflow, can cause brain shift that contributes to intracerebral hemorrhage. It is also hypothesized that the tissue thromboplastin released from the injured brain tissue in severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) leads to a local consumptive coagulopathy. [2] The same can happen due to extensive blood loss during surgery and transfusion reactions. The loss of substantial CSF volume during surgery appears to play a central role in the pathophysiological development of remote site hematoma. Suction of the CSF may cause intracranial hypotension. Further reduction of intracranial pressure leads to an increased transluminal venous pressure with subsequent rupture of veins. [19],[20] Substantial loss of CSF leads to sagging of the cerebellum away from the tentorium and thus stretching of the cerebellar veins with an increase in the transmural pressure [21] or it may be due to jugular vein compression by the transverse process of atlas in extended neck position. [22] Cerebellar "sag" as a result of CSF hypovolemia, causing transient occlusion of superior bridging veins within the posterior fossa and consequent hemorrhagic venous infarction, has also been proposed to be the most likely pathophysiological cause of remote cerebellar hematoma. [23] Pin site extradural hematoma (EDH) is a also a known etiology for remote site bleed. [24]

In our first patient, who developed bilateral extradural hemorrhage, it is quite probable that sudden decompression of the long standing arachnoid cyst and subsequent volume loss could have led to stripping of the dura on either side leading to extradural hematoma. Patient during the first surgery was not positioned using three pin or Mayfield clamp therefore pinsite hematoma was ruled out.

It is difficult to predict the cause of such diffuse subarachnoid hemorrhage in our second patient following posterior fossa surgery but probable mechanism can be due to sudden changes in the intracranial dynamics in the sitting position or due to rapid tapering of cerebrospinal fluid pressure after long standing hydrocephalous may cause disruption of subcortical veins or even capillaries. [10],[11],[12],[13],[14] The possibility of coexisting aneurysm or arteriovenous malformations was ruled out by digital subtraction angiography (DSA).

In our third case with multiple intraparenchymal hematomas following subdural tap, we believe that due to sudden removal of the CSF and subsequent intracranial hypotension a critical increase in the transluminal pressure of the veins or venules can result in tearing of these vessels. [13],[15]

In our fourth case, it is difficult to ascertain the cause of extradural hematoma. One possible cause can be sudden change in the intracranial dynamics due to rapid tapering of cerebrospinal fluid pressure. Other plausible cause can be pin site hematoma as Mayfield clamp was used in this patient. Similar mechanisms can be at play in the rest of the two patients.

Various other major causes of remote site bleed cited in literature are intraoperative rotation or extension of the head, [13],[15],[18] arterial hypertension and disturbance of coagulation profile due to use of heparin [21] or valproic acid. [25],[26]

We routinely perform CT scan of our post-operative patients after 4 hours of cranial surgery. Therefore, it is difficult to predict that whether these bleeds occurred in the early postoperative period or occurred intraoperatively. One retrospective study on cerebellar hemorrhages after supratentorial surgery had reported these to be a postoperative event rather than an intraoperative one. [15]

We strongly advocate screening of all major neurosurgical cases for coagulation, bleeding diathesis and hypertension. While positioning undue neck compression should be avoided to prevent intracranial venous hypertension. Mayfield or three pin fixation needs to be carefully done to prevent breach of inner cortex of skull. During surgery, whenever possible, sudden decompression of brain should be avoided. Cases where massive blood loss is expected, use of preoperative embolization, intraprocedural use of cell saver and even staging of the procedure is warranted to prevent consumptive coagulopathy. In case of sudden rise of ICP or brain becoming tense during surgery in a otherwise relaxed brain, an immediate postoperative CT scan is warranted to rule out remote site bleed. We perform early postoperative scan in all our cases at about 4 hours after surgery. Clinicians need to keep a high index of suspicion to diagnose this fatal complication at an early stage. In a patient with delayed reversal and deteriorating Glasgow comma scale (GCS) after surgery, CT is performed at the earliest to rule out this cause.

Wide fluctuations in the blood pressure in the operative and postoperative periods should be avoided. In patients with remote site bleed, workup of complete coagulation profile before surgical intervention is highly warranted, Decision to evacuate remote site hematoma should be tailored based on clinical, radiological, and coagulation profile. In patients with deranged coagulation profile, appropriate corrections should be done before any surgical intervention. External ventricular drain or twist drill may be the options in patients who are likely to deteriorate due to abnormal coagulation profile.

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  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5], [Figure 6]

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]


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