Last updated on November 2019

Decompressive Hemicraniectomy in Intracerebral Hemorrhage


Brief description of study

Spontaneous intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) remains a devastating disease with mortality rates up to 52% at 30 days. It is a major public health problem with an annual incidence of 10-30 per 100'000 population, accounting for 2 million (10-15%) of about 15 million strokes worldwide each year. The strategy of decompressive craniectomy (DC) is beneficial in patients with malignant middle cerebral artery (MCA) infarction. Based on the common pathophysiological mechanisms of these two conditions, this procedure is also frequently performed in patients with ICH, but is has not yet been investigated in a randomized trial.

The primary objective of this randomized controlled trial is to determine whether decompressive surgery and best medical treatment in patients with spontaneous ICH will improve outcome compared to best medical treatment only.

Secondary objectives are to analyze mortality, dependency and quality of life. Safety endpoints are to determine cause of any mortality and the rate of medical and surgical complications after DC compared with best medical treatment alone.

Detailed Study Description

Background

Spontaneous intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) remains a devastating disease with mortality rates up to 52% at 30 days. It is a major public health problem with an annual incidence of 10-30 per 100'000 population, accounting for 2 million (10-15%) of about 15 million strokes worldwide each year. One-third of patients with ICH die within one month and the majority of survivors remain handicapped. Neurological injury resulting from ICH is mediated by the mass effect of the hematoma, secondary to brain edema and/or both mechanisms. Treatment of ICH is one of the major unresolved issues of acute stroke treatment. The International Surgical Trials in Intracerebral Hemorrhage (STICH and STICH II) and other randomized controlled trials did not show any superiority of surgical treatment compared to conservative treatment approaches. Nevertheless, surgical treatment in ICH remains a matter of debate and attempts to improve outcome using surgical therapy are still ongoing. Many efforts are made to minimize the invasiveness of operative procedures such as clot evacuation. However, direct surgical interventions aiming at the removal of the hematoma have failed to improve neurological outcome for most subtypes of ICH, especially deep-seated hematomas. The trauma of open craniotomy and especially trauma to the brain parenchyma for hematoma evacuation are considered to outweigh the benefits of surgery.

Decompressive craniectomy (DC), which is beneficial in patients with malignant middle cerebral artery (MCA) infarction, may indirectly relieve the mass effect, decrease perihematomal tissue pressure, improve blood flow, reduce secondary brain damage and improve outcome without further damage to the brain due to surgery. Consequently, DC has been established as a standard surgical therapy for patients with malignant MCA infarction with a level of evidence grade 2. Decompressive craniectomy for acute stroke is one of the most effective treatments available: the number needed to be treated to save one patient's life is 2. Decompressive craniectomy is also a standard therapeutic procedure in patients with ICH due to sinus venous thrombosis, herpes encephalitis, or ruptured intracranial aneurysms. In patients with traumatic brain injury DC is a standard therapy to reduce elevated intracranial pressure. The investigators and others assessed whether DC is feasible and beneficial in patients with spontaneous intracranial hemorrhage. The investigators showed in a previous retrospective trial that DC in patients with supratentorial ICH is safe and feasible and may reduce mortality compared to matched controls with best medical treatment alone. The limitations of the feasibility trial are its retrospective design, the small sample size and the inhomogeneity of the patient cohort with respect to the origin of ICH. Furthermore, in the feasibility trial the decision for DC was taken on an individual basis rather than according to a strict protocol, introducing a potential selection bias. Nevertheless, the preliminary results are encouraging. Recently, three human trials, one animal study, one meta-analysis, and one original contribution have been published on this topic. However, no prospective randomized trial has ever assessed whether DC without hematoma evacuation in patients with acute ICH improves outcome. All recent studies showed promising results and all call for the initiation of a randomized controlled trial.

Objective

The primary objective of this randomized controlled trial is to determine whether decompressive surgery and best medical treatment in patients with spontaneous ICH will improve outcome compared to best medical treatment only.

Secondary objectives are to analyze mortality, dependency and quality of life. Safety endpoints are to determine cause of any mortality and the rate of medical and surgical complications after DC compared with best medical treatment alone.

Methods

All patients with a suspected intracerebral hemorrhage will be considered for this trial. Randomization of eligible patients will be performed within 66 hours after ictus in patients with stable clot volume and surgery no later than 6 hours after randomization. Patients randomized to the control group will receive best medical treatment according to international guidelines. Patients randomized to the treatment group will receive best medical treatment and a DC of at least 12cm according to institutional guidelines and a surgical protocol. The primary outcome death and dependency at 6 months will be assessed by a trained person unaware of treatment allocation. Favorable outcome is defined as a modified Rankin Scale (mRS) score of 0 to 4, poor outcome as modified Rankin Scale score of 5 or 6.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT02258919

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