Is fast track management after elective cranial surgery safe and can it replace routine early postoperative computed tomography?

Schär, R. T.; Fiechter, Michael; Z'Graggen, Werner Josef; Raabe, Andreas; Beck, Jürgen; Söll, Nicole; Wiest, Roland; Krejci, Vladimir (2014). Is fast track management after elective cranial surgery safe and can it replace routine early postoperative computed tomography? Journal of neurological surgery. Part A, Central European neurosurgery, 75(S 02), p. 33. Thieme 10.1055/s-0034-1383769

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Aims: Patient management following elective cranial surgery varies between different neurosurgical institutions. Early routine postoperative cranial computed tomography (CT) is often performed while keeping patients sedated and ventilated for several hours. We hypothesize that fast track management without routine CT scanning, i.e., early extubation within one hour allowing neurological monitoring, is safe and does not increase the rate of return to OR compared with published data.

Methods: We prospectively screened 1118 patients with cranial procedures performed at our department over a period of two years. 420 patients with elective brain surgery older than 18 years with no history of prior cranial surgery were included. Routine neurosurgical practice as it is performed at our department was not altered for this observational study. Fast track management was aimed for all cases, extubated and awake patients were further monitored. CT scanning within 48 hours after surgery was not performed except for unexpected neurological deterioration. This study was registered at (NCT01987648).

Results: 420 elective craniotomies were performed for 310 supra- and 110 infratentorial lesions. 398 patients (94.8%) were able to be extubated within 1 hour, 21 (5%) within 6 hours, and 1 patient (0.2%) was extubated 9 hours after surgery. Emergency CT within 48 hours was performed for 36 patients (8.6%, 26 supra- and 10 infratentorial cases) due to unexpected neurological worsening. Of these 36 patients 5 had to return to the OR (hemorrhage in 3, swelling in 2 cases). Return to OR rate of all included cases was 1.2%. This rate compares favorably with 1-4% as quoted in the current literature. No patient returned to the OR without prior CT imaging. Of 398 patients extubated within one hour 2 (0.5%) returned to the OR. Patients who couldn’t be extubated within the first hour had a higher risk of returning to the OR (3 of 22, i.e., 14%). Overall 30-day mortality was 0.2% (1 patient).

Conclusions: Early extubation and CT imaging performed only for patients with unexpected neurological worsening after elective craniotomy procedures is safe and does not increase patient mortality or the return to OR rate. With this fast track approach early postoperative cranial CT for detection of postoperative complications in the absence of an unexpected neurological finding is not justified.

Acknowledgments The authors thank Nicole Söll, study nurse, Department of Neurosurgery, Bern University Hospital, Switzerland for crucial support in data collection and managing the database.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Head Organs and Neurology (DKNS) > Clinic of Neurosurgery
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Intensive Care, Emergency Medicine and Anaesthesiology (DINA) > Clinic and Policlinic for Anaesthesiology and Pain Therapy
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Radiology, Neuroradiology and Nuclear Medicine (DRNN) > Institute of Diagnostic and Interventional Neuroradiology

UniBE Contributor:

Schär, Ralph Thomas, Fiechter, Michael, Z'Graggen, Werner Josef, Raabe, Andreas, Beck, Jürgen, Söll, Nicole, Wiest, Roland Gerhard Rudi, Krejci, Vladimir


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Jeannie Wurz

Date Deposited:

17 Mar 2015 10:13

Last Modified:

02 Mar 2023 23:25

Publisher DOI:



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