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What are the potential postoperative complications of hemispherectomies?

Dr. Aria Fallah, MD
Neurosurgeon

A hemispherectomy is a very large radical procedure associated with certain postoperative complications. Following are the main complications of hemispherectomies:

  • When a big space is left inside the head it is a potential cavity for blood to collect and cause a blood accumulation in the head that may or may not need to be drained inside the operating room. This is very unlikely but it's a possibility.
  • Losing blood volume and fluids over the course of a long case can potentially put the child at risk for dehydration. Usually a ventricular drain is left to drain the extra brain fluid and debris that's resulted from surgery. It's very important in a very young child to replace those fluids because those fluids actually matter when a child is that young.
  • There is a risk of aseptic meningitis, inflammation inside the fluid spaces of the brain. Whenever blood touches brain and spinal fluid, it can cause inflammation and a headache. This is something that can happen a lot after surgery but it's something that's very easily controllable and treatable with usually just some steroids.
  • Hydrocephalus is a complication that can happen either early, within days or up to a week after surgery, or it actually can happen many, many years in a delayed fashion.
  • There is a risk of infection. That's a risk with any operation but usually, the risks are quite low, less than 2 percent.

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