Efficacy and safety of middle meningeal artery embolization in the management of refractory or chronic subdural hematomas: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Acta Neurochirurgica (2020) 162:499–507

Refractory or chronic subdural hematomas (cSDH) constitute a challenging entity that neurosurgeons face frequently nowadays. Middle meningeal artery embolization (MMAE) has emerged in the recent years as a promising treatment option. However, solid evidence that can dictate management guidelines is still lacking.

Methods We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis (MA) in compliance with the PRISMA guidelines to evaluate the efficacy and safety of MMAE compared with conventional treatments for refractory or cSDH. Databases were searched up to March 2019. Using a random-effects model, meta-analyses of proportions and risk difference were conducted recurrence, need for surgical rescue, and complications.

Results Eleven studies (177 patients) were included. Majority (116, 69%) were males with a weighted mean age of 71 + −19.5 years. Meta-analysis of proportions showed treatment failure to be 2.8%, need for surgical rescue 2.7%, and embolization-related complications 1.2%. Meta-analysis of risk-difference between embolized and non-embolized patients showed a 26% (p < 0.001, 95% CI 21%–31%, I2 = 0) lower risk of hematoma recurrence in MMAE. Similarly, in the embolized group, the need for surgical rescue was 20% less (p < 0.001, 95% CI = 12%–27%, I2 = 12.4), and complications were 3.6% less (p = 0.008, 95% CI 1%–6%, I2 = 0) compared to conventional groups.

Conclusions Although MMAE appears to be a promising treatment for refractory or cSDH, drawing definitive conclusions remains limited by paucity of data and small sample sizes. Multicenter, randomized, prospective trials are needed to compare embolization to conventional treatments like watchful waiting, medical management, or surgical evacuation. More extensive research on MMAE could begin a new era in the minimally invasive management of cSDH.