A randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled trial of a two-week course of dexamethasone for adult patients with a symptomatic Chronic Subdural Haematoma (Dex-CSDH trial)

Hutchinson PJ, Edlmann E, Hanrahan JG, Bulters D, Zolnourian A, Holton P, Suttner N, Agyemang K, Thomson S, Anderson IA, Al-Tamimi Y, Henderson D, Whitfield P, Gherle M, Brennan PM, Allison A, Thelin EP, Tarantino S, Pantaleo B, Caldwell K, Davis-Wilke C, Mee H, Warburton EA, Barton G, Chari A, Marcus HJ, Pyne S, King AT, Belli A, Myint PK, Wilkinson I, Santarius T, Turner C, Bond S, Kolias AG
Record ID 32018011257
Authors' objectives: Chronic subdural haematoma is a collection of ‘old blood’ and its breakdown products in the subdural space and predominantly affects older people. Surgical evacuation remains the mainstay in the management of symptomatic cases. The Dex-CSDH (DEXamethasone in Chronic SubDural Haematoma) randomised trial investigated the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of dexamethasone in patients with a symptomatic chronic subdural haematoma. Chronic subdural haematoma (CSDH) is a common neurological disorder predominantly affecting older people, affecting approximately 5000 people aged over 65 years in the UK each year. Its incidence is increasing owing to an ageing population, alongside the growing use of antithrombotic agents. The majority of CSDHs do not cause symptoms and are managed conservatively. In those that do cause symptoms, surgical evacuation remains the mainstay of management, which achieves a good recovery in approximately 80% of patients. The remaining 10–20% of patients may suffer a recurrence, requiring further surgery. Additional and alternative measures to surgery are sought to improve outcomes in this patient group. Inflammation has been implicated in the pathogenesis of CSDHs, which suggests a role for anti-inflammatory medications, such as steroids. Therefore, steroids may serve as a useful adjunct or even alternative to surgery. However, to date, there is a lack of high-quality evidence in the form of a randomised clinical trial or meta-analysis. This trial investigates the clinical effectiveness of a steroid, dexamethasone, in patients with symptomatic CSDH. Primary objective The primary objective of the trial was to determine the clinical effectiveness of a 2-week course of dexamethasone for adult patients with a symptomatic CSDH, assessed by comparing the rate of favourable outcomes [defined as a Modified Rankin Scale (mRS) score of 0–3] at 6 months after randomisation between the treatment and the control arm. This outcome was reviewed centrally by a clinically trained investigator blinded to treatment allocation.
Authors' results and conclusions: A total of 748 patients were included after randomisation: 375 were assigned to dexamethasone and 373 were assigned to placebo. The mean age of the patients was 74 years and 94% underwent evacuation of their chronic subdural haematoma during the trial period. A total of 680 patients (91%) had 6-month primary outcome data available for analysis: 339 in the placebo arm and 341 in the dexamethasone arm. On a modified intention-to-treat analysis of the full study population, there was an absolute reduction in the proportion of favourable outcomes of 6.4% (95% confidence interval 11.4% to 1.4%; p = 0.01) in the dexamethasone arm compared with the control arm at 6 months. At 3 months, the between-group difference was also in favour of placebo (−8.2%, 95% confidence interval −13.3% to −3.1%). Serious adverse events occurred in 60 out of 375 (16.0%) in the dexamethasone arm and 24 out of 373 (6.4%) in the placebo arm. The net monetary benefit of dexamethasone compared with placebo was estimated to be –£97.19. This trial reports a higher rate of unfavourable outcomes at 6 months, and a higher rate of serious adverse events, in the dexamethasone arm than in the placebo arm. Dexamethasone was also not estimated to be cost-effective. Therefore, dexamethasone cannot be recommended for the treatment of chronic subdural haematoma in this population group. Primary outcome An outcome of mRS score of 0–3 occurred in 286 out of 341 patients (83.9%) in the dexamethasone arm and 306 out of 339 patients (90.3%) in the placebo arm at 6 months (difference −6.4%, 95% CI −11.4% to −1.4%; p = 0.01). After adjustment for prespecified covariates (age > 70 years and GCS score on admission), the odds ratio (OR) of a favourable outcome with dexamethasone was 0.55 (95% CI 0.33 to 0.91; p = 0.022), favouring placebo. Implications for healthcare Dexamethasone for the treatment of symptomatic CSDH resulted in a lower proportion of favourable outcomes, as measured with the mRS, and a larger number of AEs than placebo. This treatment regime was also not estimated to be cost-effective (based on the NMB). Therefore, dexamethasone is not recommended in the treatment of CSDH.
Authors' methods: This was a parallel, superiority, multicentre, pragmatic, randomised controlled trial. Assigned treatment was administered in a double-blind fashion. Outcome assessors were also blinded to treatment allocation. Neurosurgical units in the UK. Eligible participants included adults (aged ≥ 18 years) admitted to a neurosurgical unit with a symptomatic chronic subdural haematoma confirmed on cranial imaging. Participants were randomly assigned in a 1 : 1 allocation to a 2-week tapering course of dexamethasone or placebo alongside standard care. The primary outcome was the Modified Rankin Scale score at 6 months dichotomised to a favourable (score of 0–3) or an unfavourable (score of 4–6) outcome. Secondary outcomes included the Modified Rankin Scale score at discharge and 3 months; number of chronic subdural haematoma-related surgical interventions undertaken during the index and subsequent admissions; Barthel Index and EuroQol 5-Dimension 5-Level utility index score reported at discharge, 3 months and 6 months; Glasgow Coma Scale score reported at discharge and 6 months; mortality at 30 days and 6 months; length of stay; discharge destination; and adverse events. An economic evaluation was also undertaken, during which the net monetary benefit was estimated at a willingness-to-pay threshold of £20,000 per quality-adjusted life-year. Trial design The Dex-CSDH (DEXamethasone in Chronic SubDural Haematoma) trial is a multicentre, pragmatic, clinical phase III, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of a tapering 2-week course of dexamethasone in patients with a symptomatic CSDH. The pragmatic design meant that the trial ran in parallel with standard clinical care, with the only difference being the addition of the trial drug (dexamethasone) or placebo. Participants were screened for eligibility from 23 NSUs across the UK, with the admitting neurosurgical team determining eligibility for participation. Participants were adult patients aged ≥ 18 years with a symptomatic CSDH confirmed on cranial imaging (computerised tomography or magnetic resonance imaging of the brain). The patient or their legal representative had to provide informed consent. In the absence of a legal representative, an independent healthcare professional provided authorisation for enrolment. Patients were excluded in the presence of any of the following criteria: presence of a condition for which steroids are clearly contraindicated patients who are (or within 1 month of) receiving regular oral or intravenous glucocorticoid steroids (this did not include inhaled or topical steroids, nor did it include those receiving a single intraoperative dose of dexamethasone for anti-emesis) previous enrolment in this trial for a prior episode time interval from time of admission to the NSU to first dose of trial medication exceeded 72 hours chronic subdural haematoma in the presence of a cerebrospinal fluid shunt severe lactose intolerance or a known hypersensitivity to dexamethasone or other excipients a history of psychotic disorders unwillingness to take products containing gelatine. Patients who were screened but not included in the study were recorded on a screening log and reported centrally, with both the number of failures and the reasons for failure to recruit to the trial documented.
Project Status: Completed
Year Published: 2024
URL for additional information: English
English language abstract: An English language summary is available
Publication Type: Full HTA
Country: England, United Kingdom
MeSH Terms
  • Hematoma, Subdural, Chronic
  • Dexamethasone
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Adult
Organisation Name: NIHR Health Technology Assessment programme
Contact Address: NIHR Journals Library, National Institute for Health and Care Research, Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre, Alpha House, University of Southampton Science Park, Southampton SO16 7NS, UK
Contact Name: journals.library@nihr.ac.uk
Contact Email: journals.library@nihr.ac.uk
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