Vasopressor-induced hypertension (VIH) is an established treatment for patients with aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) who develop vasospasm and delayed cerebral ischemia (DCI). However, the safety of VIH in patients with coincident, unruptured, unprotected intracranial aneurysms is uncertain.
This retrospective multiinstitutional study identified 1) patients with aneurysmal SAH and 1 or more unruptured, unprotected aneurysms who required VIH therapy (VIH group), and 2) patients with aneurysmal SAH and 1 or more unruptured, unprotected aneurysms who did not require VIH therapy (non-VIH group). All patients had previously undergone surgical or endovascular treatment for the presumed ruptured aneurysm. Comparisons between the VIH and non-VIH patients were made in terms of the patient characteristics, clinical and radiographic severity of SAH, total number of aneurysms, number of ruptured/unruptured aneurysms, aneurysm location/size, number of unruptured and unprotected aneurysms during VIH, severity of vasospasm, degree of hypervolemia, and degree and duration of VIH therapy.
For the VIH group (n = 176), 484 aneurysms were diagnosed, 231 aneurysms were treated, and 253 unruptured aneurysms were left unprotected during 1293 total days of VIH therapy (5.12 total years of VIH therapy for unruptured, unprotected aneurysms). For the non-VIH group (n = 73), 207 aneurysms were diagnosed, 93 aneurysms were treated, and 114 unruptured aneurysms were left unprotected. For the VIH and non-VIH groups, the mean sizes of the ruptured (7.2 ± 0.3 vs 7.8 ± 0.6 mm, respectively; p = 0.27) and unruptured (3.4 ± 0.2 vs 3.2 ± 0.2 mm, respectively; p = 0.40) aneurysms did not differ. The authors observed 1 new SAH from a previously unruptured, unprotected aneurysm in each group (1 of 176 vs 1 of 73 patients; p = 0.50). Baseline patient characteristics and comorbidities were similar between groups. While the degree of hypervolemia was similar between the VIH and non-VIH patients (fluid balance over the first 10 days of therapy: 3146.2 ± 296.4 vs 2910.5 ± 450.7 ml, respectively; p = 0.67), VIH resulted in a significant increase in mean arterial pressure (mean increase over the first 10 days of therapy relative to baseline: 125.1% ± 1.0% vs 98.2% ± 1.2%, respectively; p < 0.01) and systolic blood pressure (125.6% ± 1.1% vs. 104.1% ± 5.2%, respectively; p < 0.01).
For small, unruptured, unprotected intracranial aneurysms in SAH patients, the frequency of aneurysm rupture during VIH therapy is rare. The authors do not recommend withholding VIH therapy from these patients.