What is Burr Hole Drainage?

Burr hole drainage is a surgical procedure in which one or more small holes (burr holes) are drilled into the skull, often to drain cysts or subdural hematomas. A subdural hematoma is a swelling of clotted blood that forms underneath the dura, or the outer cover of the brain, usually due to head trauma. Such lesions can cause increased pressure on the brain and lead to complications such as seizures, headaches, and brain damage. While some lesions may heal on their own, others will require surgery. For larger lesions, more invasive procedures that require larger holes are performed. However, for small subdural hematomas, burr hole drainage is a treatment option.

To perform burr hole drainage, your surgeon will shave the area(s) to be treated and apply solution to the scalp to prevent infection. After an incision is made to expose the skull, one or more burr holes are drilled. Then a thin tube, or catheter, is inserted to drain the hematoma or cyst. The catheter may be left in place for a few days before the incision is closed.

After your surgery, you will be monitored for a few days or weeks in the hospital. You will be given medication to prevent infection or if you experience discomfort. You may have to restrict your physical activity during the weeks following the procedure.

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