Influence of cocaine on ruptured intracranial aneurysms: a case control study of poor prognostic indicators

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The purpose of this study was to determine whether cocaine use is a significant prognostic factor for outcome measures such as Hunt and Hess grade and Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) score among patients presenting with ruptured intracranial aneurysms (IAs).


The authors performed a MEDLINE/PubMed search for cases of ruptured IAs associated with cocaine use. Fourteen cases from the authors' experience were combined with 50 from a literature review, for a total of 64 cases associated with cocaine use. These 64 cases were compared with 65 cases without cocaine use (controls), which had been obtained from an aneurysm database. Logistic regression analysis was performed to determine significant prognostic factors for a poor Hunt and Hess grade and a poor GOS score, and a general linear model was applied to identify significant factors for these measures among cocaine users.


There were 40 women in each group. The mean age was 32.3 ± 8.1 years in the cocaine group and 49.7 ± 10.6 years in the control group; thus, patients in the cocaine group were significantly younger (p < 0.01). Cocaine was snorted in 21% of cases, smoked in 55%, and intravenously injected or taken in through a combination of routes in 24%. Fifty-one percent of cocaine users and 7.7% of nonusers presented with a poor GOS score (p < 0.01). Fifty-six percent had ictus during cocaine abuse. At the end of a 30-day follow-up, 51% of the patients in the cocaine group had a good GOS score compared with 92% in the control group (p < 0.01). Controlling for the effects of other significant factors, cocaine use had a significant effect on Hunt and Hess grade (p < 0.03) and GOS score (p < 0.01). The odds of having a poor Hunt and Hess grade among cocaine users were 4.2 times greater than those in nonusers, and the odds of having a poor GOS score among cocaine users were 38.8 times greater.


Aneurysms were significantly smaller and ruptured at a younger age among cocaine users compared with nonusers. Although the poor clinical grade was not significantly different between the 2 groups, outcome was significantly worse in cocaine users.

Abbreviations used in this study:GLM = general linear model; GOS = Glasgow Outcome Scale; IA = intracranial aneurysm; OR = odds ratio; SAH = subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Article Information

Address correspondence to: Anil Nanda, M.D., Department of Neurosurgery, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Shreveport, 1501 Kings' Highway, Shreveport, Louisiana 71130. email:

© AANS, except where prohibited by US copyright law.



  • View in gallery

    Graph demonstrating the distribution of Hunt and Hess grades among cocaine users and nonusers (control).

  • View in gallery

    Graph depicting the significant difference in GOS scores between the cocaine users and nonusers (p < 0.01).

  • View in gallery

    Graph revealing the significant influence of Hunt and Hess grade on GOS score in cocaine users.



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