The Utility of Routine Intensive Care Admission for Patients Undergoing Intracranial Neurosurgical Procedures: A Systematic Review

Cesar Cimonari de Almeida, M. Dustin Boone, Yosef Laviv, Burkhard S. Kasper, Clark C. Chen, Ekkehard M. Kasper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Background: Patients who have undergone intracranial neurosurgical procedures have traditionally been admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) for close postoperative neurological observation. The purpose of this study was to systematically review the evidence for routine ICU admission in patients undergoing intracranial neurosurgical procedures and to evaluate the safety of alternative postoperative pathways. Methods: We were interested in identifying studies that examined selected patients who presented for elective, non-emergent intracranial surgery whose postoperative outcomes were compared as a function of ICU versus non-ICU admission. A systematic review was performed in July 2016 using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses checklist of the Medline database. The search strategy was created based on the following key words: “craniotomy,” “neurosurgical procedure,” and “intensive care unit.” Results: The nine articles that satisfied the inclusion criteria yielded a total of 2227 patients. Of these patients, 879 were observed in a non-ICU setting. The most frequent diagnoses were supratentorial brain tumors, followed by patients with cerebrovascular diseases and infratentorial brain tumors. Three percent (30/879) of the patients originally assigned to floor or intermediate care status were transferred to the ICU. The most frequently observed neurological complications leading to ICU transfer were delayed postoperative neurological recovery, seizures, worsening of neurological deficits, hemiparesis, and cranial nerves deficits. Conclusion: Our systematic review demonstrates that routine postoperative ICU admission may not benefit carefully selected patients who have undergone elective intracranial neurosurgical procedures. In addition, limiting routine ICU admission may result in significant cost savings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-42
Number of pages8
JournalNeurocritical Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Craniotomy
  • Healthcare quality
  • Intensive care
  • Neurosurgical procedures
  • Postoperative complications
  • Resource allocation


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