Acute and chronic hydrocephalus are common pathologies after aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). Generally, the presence of acute hydrocephalus is associated with elevated intracranial pressure (ICP) treated with a ventricular drain. Subsequently, however, pronounced hydrocephalus without elevated ICP may develop in some patients with SAH in the postacute phase. This is described as acute low-pressure hydrocephalus (aLPH), and there are very limited data in the literature of this pathology. The aim of this study was to evaluate the rate of and factors associated with aLPH and describe its clinical course.
In this retrospective single-center cohort study, the frequency and clinical characteristics of SAH-associated aLPH were investigated. Acute LPH was defined as an increase in ventricular size as measured by the Evans index, ICP within the normal range (< 5 mm Hg) at the time of ventricular enlargement, and timely neurological improvement after indwelling ventricular CSF drainage with negative pressure up to 5 cm H2O below normal level. Demographic and SAH-specific factors in patients with SAH treated using an external ventricular drain were extracted from the electronic medical chart and further analyzed.
From November 2010 to May 2020, 15 (3.7.%) of 406 patients with SAH fulfilled the criteria for aLPH. Acute LPH was diagnosed after an average of 13.1 ± 7.7 days. The presence of IVH and its extension were associated with the occurrence of aLPH. After undergoing the transient phase of aLPH, these patients subsequently developed a chronic, typical malresorptive hydrocephalus requiring a ventriculoperitoneal shunt more often (66.7% vs 17.4%, p < 0.001) and stayed longer in the intensive care unit (27 vs 20.5 days, p = 0.043) and in the hospital (36.4 vs 26.3 days, p = 0.004).
Acute LPH is a rare pathology in patients with SAH and negatively impacts the clinical course. It should be especially considered in patients with a lack of neurological improvement, an increase in ventricular width, and normal ICP values, so that forced CSF drainage is implemented.