Desmopressin administration and rebleeding in subarachnoid hemorrhage: analysis of an observational prospective database

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Rebleeding remains a frequent and catastrophic event leading to poor outcome after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). Reduced platelet function after the initial bleed is associated with higher risk of early rebleeding. Desmopressin (DDAVP) is a well-known hemostatic agent, and recent guidelines already suggest its use in individuals exposed to antiplatelet drugs. The authors hypothesized that DDAVP administration in patients with SAH at admission would be associated with lower risks of rebleeding.


The authors performed an observational cohort study of patients enrolled in the Columbia University SAH Outcome Project between August 1996 and July 2015. The authors compared the rate of rebleeding between patients who were and those who were not treated with DDAVP. After adjustment for known predictors, logistic regression was used to measure the association between treatment with DDAVP and risks of rebleeding.


Among 1639 patients with SAH, 12% were treated with DDAVP. The main indication for treatment was suspected exposure to an antiplatelet agent. The overall incidence of rebleeding was 9% (1% among patients treated with DDAVP compared with 8% among those not treated). After adjustment for antiplatelet use and known predictors, treatment with DDAVP was associated with a 45% reduction in the risks of rebleeding (adjusted OR 0.55, 95% CI 0.27–0.97). DDAVP was associated with a higher incidence of hyponatremia but not with thrombotic events or delayed cerebral ischemia.


Treatment with DDAVP was associated with a lower risk of rebleeding among patients with SAH. These findings support further study of DDAVP as first-line therapy for medical hemostasis in patients with SAH.

ABBREVIATIONS DCI = delayed cerebral ischemia; DDAVP = desmopressin; SAH = subarachnoid hemorrhage; SHOP = Columbia University SAH Outcome Project.

Article Information

Correspondence Soojin Park: Columbia University, New York, NY.

INCLUDE WHEN CITING Published online February 2, 2018; DOI: 10.3171/2017.7.JNS17990.

Disclosures Dr. Claassen is a consultant for SAGE. Dr. Mayer is a consultant for Actelion.

© AANS, except where prohibited by US copyright law.



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    Flow diagram of patients included in the treatment and control arms of the study.





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