BACKGROUND: Spontaneous supratentorial intracerebral haemorrhage accounts for 20% of all stroke-related sudden neurological deficits, has the highest morbidity and mortality of all stroke, and the role of surgery remains controversial. We undertook a prospective randomised trial to compare early surgery with initial conservative treatment for patients with intracerebral haemorrhage.
METHODS: A parallel-group trial design was used. Early surgery combined haematoma evacuation (within 24 h of randomisation) with medical treatment. Initial conservative treatment used medical treatment, although later evacuation was allowed if necessary. We used the eight-point Glasgow outcome scale obtained by postal questionnaires sent directly to patients at 6 months follow-up as the primary outcome measure. We divided the patients into good and poor prognosis groups on the basis of their clinical status at randomisation. For the good prognosis group, a favourable outcome was defined as good recovery or moderate disability on the Glasgow outcome scale. For the poor prognosis group, a favourable outcome also included the upper level of severe disability. Analysis was by intention to treat.
FINDINGS: 1033 patients from 83 centres in 27 countries were randomised to early surgery (503) or initial conservative treatment (530). At 6 months, 51 patients were lost to follow-up, and 17 were alive with unknown status. Of 468 patients randomised to early surgery, 122 (26%) had a favourable outcome compared with 118 (24%) of 496 randomised to initial conservative treatment (odds ratio 0.89 [95% CI 0.66-1.19], p=0.414); absolute benefit 2.3% (-3.2 to 7.7), relative benefit 10% (-13 to 33).
INTERPRETATION: Patients with spontaneous supratentorial intracerebral haemorrhage in neurosurgical units show no overall benefit from early surgery when compared with initial conservative treatment.