Patients presenting with large ischemic strokes may develop uncontrollable, progressive brain edema that risks compression of brain parenchyma and cerebral herniation.1 Edema that does not respond to medical treatment necessitates decompressive hemicraniectomy (DH) as a life-saving procedure. The functional outcome of patients is uncertain and the patient’s family is presented with the difficult decision of intervention with DH. While the functional outcome of patients is not worsened by DH,2 neurological deficit is likely as a result of initial large-territory ischemia. The correlation of specific clinical variables preceding DH to patient outcome helps inform clinicians and families about prognosis.3 This study identifies an array of clinical variables in patients who underwent DH for ischemic stroke in order to investigate potential predictors of functional outcome.


A total of 1,624 subjects that underwent any type of craniectomy from 2006 to 2014 were retrospectively screened via electronic medical record. The specific selection criterion was DH secondary to ischemic stroke involving the middle cerebral artery (MCA), internal carotid artery (ICA), or both. Subjects were excluded if they underwent craniectomy for any reason other than DH for ischemic stroke; or if the MCA or ICA were not implicated. The clinical variables that were collected may be divided into pre-DH and post-DH. The pre-DH variables involve patient demographics and past medical history, in addition to clinical variables during the period of presentation and clinical management leading up to DH. The post-DH variables describe the in-patient recovery period and discharge status. The primary outcome was functional status assessed by the Modified Rankin Scale (MRS) score at 90 days post-DH. The MRS ranges from 0 (no symptoms) to 6 (death) with intermediate values (1-5) representing increasing functional and cognitive disability.