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2022 Dec 09

Neurosurg Rev



Routine postoperative admission to the neurocritical intensive care unit after microvascular decompression: necessary or can it be abandoned?


Hatipoglu Majernik G, Fernandes F W, Al-Afif S, Heissler HE, Palmaers T, Atallah O, Scheinichen D, Krauss JK
Neurosurg Rev. 2022 Dec 09; 46(1):12.
PMID: 36482263.


Postoperative neurocritical intensive care unit (NICU) admission of patients who underwent craniotomy for close observation is common practice. In this study, we performed a comparative analysis to determine if there is a real need for NICU admission after microvascular decompression (MVD) for cranial nerve disorders or whether it may be abandoned. The present study evaluates a consecutive series of 236 MVD surgeries performed for treatment of trigeminal neuralgia (213), hemifacial spasm (17), vagoglossopharyngeal neuralgia (2), paroxysmal vertigo (2), and pulsatile tinnitus (2). All patients were operated by the senior surgeon according to a standard protocol over a period of 12 years. Patients were admitted routinely to NICU during the first phase of the study (phase I), while in the second phase (phase II), only patients with specific indications would go to NICU. While 105 patients (44%) were admitted to NICU postoperatively (phase I), 131 patients (56%) returned to the ward after a short stay in a postanaesthesia care unit (PACU) (phase II). Specific indications for NICU admission in phase I were pneumothorax secondary to central venous catheter insertion (4 patients), AV block during surgery, low blood oxygen levels after extubation, and postoperative dysphagia and dysphonia (1 patient, respectively). There were no significant differences in the distribution of ASA scores or the presence of cardiac and pulmonary comorbidities like congestive heart failure, arterial hypertension, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease between groups. There were no secondary referrals from PACU to NICU. Our study shows that routine admission of patients after eventless MVD to NICU does not provide additional value. NICU admission can be restricted to patients with specific indications. When MVD surgery is performed in experienced hands according to a standard anaesthesia protocol, clinical observation on a neurosurgical ward is sufficient to monitor the postoperative course. Such a policy results in substantial savings of costs and human resources.