Management of hydrocephalus and subdural hygromas in pediatric patients after decompression of Chiari malformation type I: Case series and review of the literature

Andrew C. Vivas, Nir Shimony, Eric M. Jackson, Risheng Xu, George I. Jallo, Luis Rodriguez, Gerald F. Tuite, Carolyn M. Carey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE Hydrocephalus associated with subdural hygromas is a rare complication after decompression of Chiari malformation type I (CM-I). There is no consensus for management of this complication. The authors present a series of 5 pediatric patients who underwent CM-I decompression with placement of a dural graft complicated by posterior fossa hygromas and hydrocephalus that were successfully managed nonoperatively. METHODS A retrospective review over the last 5 years of patients who presented with hydrocephalus and subdural hygromas following foramen magnum decompression with placement of a dural graft for CM-I was conducted at 2 pediatric institutions. Their preoperative presentation, perioperative hospital course, and postoperative re-presentation are discussed with attention to their treatment regimen and ultimate outcome. In addition to reporting these cases, the authors discuss all similar cases found in their literature review. RESULTS Over the last 5 years, the authors have encountered 194 pediatric cases of CM-I decompression with duraplasty equally distributed at the 2 institutions. Of those cases, 5 pediatric patients with a delayed postoperative complication involving hydrocephalus and subdural hygromas were identified. The 5 patients were managed nonoperatively with acetazolamide and high-dose dexamethasone; dosages of both drugs were adjusted to the age and weight of each patient. All patients were symptom free at follow-up and exhibited resolution of their pathology on imaging. Thirteen similar pediatric cases and 17 adult cases were identified in the literature review. Most reported cases were treated with CSF diversion or reoperation. There were a total of 4 cases previously reported with successful nonoperative management. Of these cases, only 1 case was reported in the pediatric population. CONCLUSIONS De novo hydrocephalus, in association with subdural hygromas following CM-I decompression, is rare. This presentation suggests that these complications after posterior fossa decompression with duraplasty can be treated with nonoperative medical management, therefore obviating the need for CSF diversion or reoperation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)426-438
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • Chiari I malformation
  • Complication
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Posterior fossa decompression
  • Subdural hygromas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology


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