Burr Hole Surgery
Ihave been getting lots of questions about the stuff I had gone through after my recent article: Who’s Got Your Back. Burr hole surgery was something that I was unfamiliar with prior to October 2013. Since then I have had 6 burr holes ( 4 during craniotomy) drilled into my skull and thank goodness I don’t look anything like Jim Carrey during his performance in the The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. If you are a reading this article because this is something that you are facing in your life, you are going to want to exercise your sense of humor and start developing the right mindset, so lighten up a little watch the clip and have a laugh. Don’t worry – it’s nothing like the magic trick…
Burr Hole Surgery To Drain Subdural Hematoma
When I underwent burr hole surgery it was performed in the Neurolgy Ward as opposed to in the Operating Room. As far as brain surgery goes, I was informed that this was a very routine procedure and the most common operation for repairing a subdural hematoma.
Preparation began 12 hours earlier, I was required to fast without food or drink for 12 hours prior to surgery. For me, this turned into quite a bit longer as my surgery was delayed due to other circumstances in the hospital. I don’t remember this time period very well. I had an enormous amount of pressure building inside my head, I wasn’t speaking very clearly and I have been told that my general consciousness and motor skills took a real nose dive in the 12-24 hours prior to this surgery. I guess the clot was growing or shifting and the pressure on my brain was responsible for this.
The operation began with shaving the portion of my head where the incisions were to take place. They did not shave my entire head or even a side of my head. In hind site, hair is full of bacteria and had I been aware of this I would have gladly shaved my entire head to avoid the complications that I later had with infection. If you are facing this surgery, you may want to discuss this point with your medical team.
While the operation was not performed in the O.R. my family was asked to leave during the procedure. Unfortunately, I had a recurring bleed and had this operation done twice, the second time I was completely coherent prior to the operation and based on the two events I think I have a pretty good handle on what takes place.
At this point, I was given injections for local anesthetic. I was not put under for the operation, I am uncertain if this is the situation for every burr hole procedure but I was not put under for either operation.
A small incision is made in the scalp at the point where they have elected to insert the drain. A hand drill device, called a Hudson Brace, was used to create an 8 mm opening in my skull. An incision is then made in the Dura layer. From this point a small catheter is inserted into the area between the Dura and Arachnoid layers and inserted until it comes in contact with the blood clot.
In my case, during the first surgery, as soon as the incision was made in the Dura, blood was released due to the pressure within my head. I could feel the pressure subsiding immediately as the blood now had an escape route and my brain was able to shift back.
The burr hole surgery is performed so that the catheter can work like a siphon and drain the blood from the clot out of the head and release the pressure. During both of my surgeries the catheter or drain was left in place for around a day. They made another incision in the back of my head, threaded the drain under the skin but on top of my skull and had it exit at the rear of my head.
The main incision was sitched closed and a few stitches held the drain in place where it exited my head. The drain was then placed into a collection bag that hung on the lower part of my hospital bed and stayed attached to me for the 24 hours using gravity to drain the collected blood.
The subdural hematoma in my head was quite large, it drained approximately 140 ml of blood in 24 hours. The drain was then removed by loosening the stitches at the rear of my head and slowly sliding the catheter out through that exit. The main entry point for the burr hole is not reopened.
My recovery from the burr hole surgery is not typical of what most experience. Please keep in mind, I ended up being the low minority statistic in almost everything that happened to me. I am sure that will not be the case for you.
As I said the pressure and pain in my head was relieved instantly. I did continue to have a sore head, mostly as a result of the surgical procedure I believe. I didn’t sleep very well for about the first week and remained very tired. Stitches were removed after about 10 days.
I felt better every day for about two weeks, then progress became slower and as it turned out this would be the case for me following both burr hole surgeries but this is a result of complications. The reading that I was able to do and my personal experience was that right around 5-6 weeks following surgery on my head, the trauma from undergoing surgery seem to almost disappear completely.
So if you are looking at having surgery due to a subdural hematoma and they are going to perform a burr hole operation on you, I think that is probably a pretty safe guage at 5-6 weeks. Everything dependant on your current health and physical conditioning of course, I was previously healthy and in good shape and that is what it took for me.
If you want to read more about my story, you can do so here: Who’s Got Your Back. Otherwise, take a minute to laugh at the short youtube clip here and if you or anyone you know wants to talk more about this type of brain surgery, just leave me a comment, I would love to hear from you and help in any way I can.