Object. Transluminal angioplasty has become a widely used adjunct therapy to medical management of symptomatic cerebral vasospasm following subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). Despite anecdotal reports of universal, angiographically confirmed reversal of vasospasm and high rates of clinical improvement, no rigorous examination of the efficacy of this procedure has been conducted. In this study the authors assess the efficacy of the aforementioned procedure.
Methods. Thirty-eight patients enrolled as part of the North American trial of tirilazad in aneurysmal SAH underwent transluminal angioplasty for symptomatic cerebral vasospasm. Fifty-three percent of these patients showed good recovery or moderate disability based on their 3-month Glasgow Outcome Scale score.
Among the 38 patients who underwent angioplasty, the severity and type of vasospasm, use of papaverine in addition to balloon angioplasty, timing of treatment, and dose of study drug did not have an effect on the outcome. The results of their neurological examinations improved in only four of the 38 patients immediately after the procedure. A conditional logistic regression analysis was performed in which these patients were compared with individuals matched for age, sex, dose of study drug, admission neurological grade, and modified Glasgow Coma Scale score at the time of angioplasty. No effect on favorable outcomes was found for this procedure.
Conclusions. Transluminal cerebral angioplasty is very effective in reversing angiographically confirmed vasospasm, and anecdotal reports of its clinical utility are numerous. However, in this report the authors conclude that its superiority to medical management for symptomatic cerebral vasospasm is questionable.