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ICP Monitoring

J. Paul Elliott

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Blood transfusion and increased risk for vasospasm and poor outcome after subarachnoid hemorrhage

Michelle J. Smith, Peter D. Le Roux, J. Paul Elliott, and H. Richard Winn

Object. Nitric oxide (NO) metabolism may influence vasospasm after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). It has been demonstrated in recent studies that erythrocytes carry NO for release in vessels, whereas transfused erythrocytes may lack stored NO. Several converging lines of evidence also indicate that blood transfusion may exacerbate poor outcomes in some critically ill patients. In this study the authors hypothesized that patients with SAH who received red blood cell (RBC) transfusions were at greater risk for vasospasm and poor outcome.

Methods. The authors retrospectively reviewed a prospective observational database, including hospital records, computerized tomography (CT) scans, and pre- and postoperative four-vessel angiograms, in which the management methods used in 441 patients undergoing surgery for ruptured cerebral aneurysms were described. Two hundred seventy patients (61.2%) received an RBC transfusion during their hospital stay. After adjustment for Hunt and Hess grade, SAH grade on CT scans, delay between rupture and surgery, smoking status, and intraoperative aneurysm rupture, a worse outcome was more likely in patients who received intraoperative blood (odds ratio [OR] 2.44, confidence interval [CI] 1.32–4.52; 120 patients). Intraoperative RBC transfusion did not influence subsequent angiographically confirmed vasospasm (OR 0.92, CI 0.6–1.4). Worse outcome was observed in patients who received blood postoperatively (OR 1.81, CI 1.21–2.7), but not after adjustments were made for confounding variables (OR 1.48, CI 0.83–2.63). Angiographic vasospasm was observed in 217 patients and, after adjusting for confounding variables, was more frequent among patients who received postoperative RBC transfusion (OR 1.68, CI 1.02–2.75). Among patients in whom angiographically confirmed vasospasm developed there was a tendency to have received more blood than in those with no vasospasm; however, a clear dose-dependent response was not observed.

Conclusions. Development of angiographically confirmed vasospasm after SAH is associated with postoperative RBC transfusion and worse outcome is associated with intraoperative RBC transfusion. Before blood is transfused, patients with SAH should be carefully assessed to determine if they are symptomatic because of anemia.

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Relationship between intracranial pressure and other clinical variables in patients with aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage

Gregory G. Heuer, Michelle J. Smith, J. Paul Elliott, H. Richard Winn, and Peter D. Leroux

Object. Increased intracranial pressure (ICP) is well known to affect adversely patients with head injury. In contrast, the variables associated with ICP following aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) and their impact on outcome have been less intensely studied.

Methods. In this retrospective study the authors reviewed a prospective observational database cataloging the treatment details in 433 patients with SAH who had undergone surgical occlusion of an aneurysm as well as ICP monitoring. All 433 patients underwent postoperative ICP monitoring, whereas only 146 (33.7%) underwent both pre- and postoperative ICP monitoring.

The mean maximal ICP was 24.9 ± 17.3 mm Hg (mean ± standard deviation). During their hospital stay, 234 patients (54%) had elevated ICP (> 20 mm Hg), including 136 of those (48.7%) with a good clinical grade (Hunt and Hess Grades I–III) and 98 (63.6%) of the 154 patients with a poor grade (Hunt and Hess Grades IV and V) on admission. An increased mean maximal ICP was associated with several admission variables: worse Hunt and Hess clinical grade (p < 0.0001), a lower Glasgow Coma Scale (GSC) motor score (p < 0.0001); worse SAH grade based on results of computerized tomography studies (p < 0.0001); intracerebral hemorrhage (p = 0.024); severity of intraventricular hemorrhage (p < 0.0001); and rebleeding (p = 0.0048). Both intraoperative cerebral swelling (p = 0.0017) and postoperative GCS score (p < 0.0001) were significantly associated with a raised ICP. Variables such as patient age, aneurysm size, symptomatic vasospasm, intraoperative aneurysm rupture, and secondary cerebral insults such as hypoxia were not associated with raised ICP. Increased ICP adversely affected outcome: 71.9% of patients with normal ICP demonstrated favorable 6-month outcomes postoperatively, whereas 63.5% of patients with ICP between 20 and 50 mm Hg and 33.3% with ICP greater than 50 mm Hg demonstrated favorable outcomes. Among 21 patients whose raised ICP did not respond to mannitol therapy, all experienced a poor outcome and 95.2% died. Among 145 patients whose elevated ICP responded to mannitol, 66.9% had a favorable outcome and only 20.7% were dead 6 months after surgery (p < 0.0001). According to results of multivariate analysis, however, ICP was not an independent outcome predictor (odds ratio 1.26, 95% confidence interval 0.28–5.68).

Conclusions. Increased ICP is common after SAH, even in patients with a good clinical grade. Elevated ICP post-SAH is associated with a worse patient outcome, particularly if ICP does not respond to treatment. This association, however, may depend more on the overall severity of the SAH than on ICP alone.

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Balloon angioplasty of the A1 segment of the anterior cerebral artery narrowed by vasospasm

Technical note

Joseph M. Eskridge, Joon K. Song, J. Paul Elliott, David W. Newell, M. Sean Grady, and H. Richard Winn

✓ The authors describe a new endovascular technique that improves catheterization and balloon angioplasty of the A1 segment of the anterior cerebral artery after it has been narrowed by vasospasm. The technical results of using this method in seven patients are presented.

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Predicting outcome in poor-grade patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage: a retrospective review of 159 aggressively managed cases

Peter D. Le Roux, J. Paul Elliott, David W. Newell, M. Sean Grady, and H. Richard Winn

✓ To determine what factors predict outcome, the authors retrospectively reviewed the management of all 159 poor-grade patients admitted to Harborview Medical Center at the University of Washington who suffered aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage between 1983 and 1993. Favorable outcome (assessed by the Glasgow Outcome Scale) occurred in 53.9% of Hunt and Hess Grade IV, and 24.1% of Grade V patients. Outcome was largely determined by the initial hemorrhage and subsequent development of intractable intracranial hypertension or cerebral infarction. Using multivariate analysis, the authors developed three models to predict outcome. It was found that predicting outcome based only on clinical and diagnostic criteria present at admission may have resulted in withholding treatment from 30% of the patients who subsequently experienced favorable outcomes. It is concluded that aggressive management including surgical aneurysm obliteration can benefit patients with poor neurological grades and should not be denied solely on the basis of the neurological condition on admission.

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Predicting length of hospital stay and cost by aneurysm grade on admission

J. Paul Elliott, Peter D. Le Roux, Galen Ransom, David W. Newell, M. Sean Grady, and H. Richard Winn

✓ To determine the relationship between clinical grade on admission and treatment cost after aneurysm rupture, the authors retrospectively examined the length of hospital stay (LOS) and total hospitalization costs (excluding professional fees) for 543 patients admitted for aneurysm surgery between 1983 and 1993. The overall median LOS was 18 days, with a range of 1 to 165 days. Increased median LOS correlated with Hunt and Hess Grades 0 to IV on admission (p< 0.001). Median LOS for Grade V patients was reduced, in part, because of early mortality. Increased treatment cost also correlated with worse admission clinical grade (p < 0.001). A significant proportion of total expenditures occurred early in the hospitalization for patients in all clinical grades. Identification of additional factors affecting the cost of aneurysm treatment is indicated to complement treatment outcome studies.

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Ventricular entry during resection of malignant gliomas: effect on intracranial cerebrospinal fluid tumor dissemination

J. Paul Elliott, G. Evren Keles, Michael Waite, Nancy Temkin, and Mitchel S. Berger

✓ The ventricular system is not infrequently entered during the course of maximum cytoreductive surgery for high-grade supratentorial gliomas. It is unclear if ventricular entry during surgery and/or proximity of the tumor to the ventricular system affects cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tumor dissemination or the patients' overall survival rate. The authors retrospectively reviewed hospital records and neuroradiological studies of 51 patients operated on at the University of Washington between 1987 and 1991. Inclusion in this study necessitated a pathological diagnosis of malignant glioma and the availability of preoperative and postoperative computerized tomography scans or magnetic resonance images. Patients were excluded from the study if they had radiographic evidence of ventricular entry or CSF tumor dissemination prior to referral to the authors' institution. The index operation was defined as the first operation at the University of Washington or (in those patients with ventricular entry) the operation in which the ventricle was entered. Patients were followed until time of death or, in the case of survivors, until February, 1992. The effect of both ventricular entry and the proximity of the tumor to the ventricular system on CSF tumor dissemination and survival rate was assessed using statistical survival methodology.

There was no significant difference in time from diagnosis to the index operation between groups compared (Mann-Whitney U-test, p > 0.40). Cerebrospinal fluid dissemination was radiographically documented in 18 patients (35%) following the index operation. This occurrence was not significantly influenced by either ventricular entry during surgery (Mantel-Cox test, p = 0.13), the proximity of the tumor to the ventricular system (p = 0.63), or these two variables combined (p = 0.28). Survival rate following the index operation was not significantly affected by ventricular entry (p = 0.66), proximity of the tumor to the ventricular system (p = 0.61), or these two variable considered in combination (p = 0.44). However, survival rate was significantly decreased once CSF tumor dissemination had occurred (Cox model, p = 0.03).

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Papaverine and Vasospasm

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Improved outcome after rupture of anterior circulation aneurysms: a retrospective 10-year review of 224 good-grade patients

Peter D. Le Roux, J. Paul Elliott, Lois Downey, David W. Newell, M. Sean Grady, Marc R. Mayberg, Joseph M. Eskridge, and H. Richard Winn

✓ Several significant diagnostic and therapeutic advances in the management of subarachnoid hemorrhage have emerged during the last 10 years. The present study was undertaken to determine whether these advances have improved overall outcome in patients of low surgical risk and what factors predict outcome. The authors retrospectively reviewed the management of good-grade patients seen at the Harborview Medical Center at the University of Washington, who suffered ruptured anterior circulation aneurysms between 1983 and 1993. The results in this series demonstrate that favorable outcomes occurred in 96.8% of patients designated Hunt and Hess Grade I, 88.3% of those assigned Grade II, and 81.3% of those deemed Grade III after rupture of anterior circulation aneurysms. On the basis of clinical and radiographic factors present at admission, correct prediction can be made about all favorable, but only 17% of unfavorable outcomes. During the decade under investigation, the authors observed a significant (p = 0.002) increase in the number of favorable outcomes: 74.5% of patients treated during the first management period (1983–1987); 87% of patients treated during the second period (1987–1990); and 93.5% of patients treated during the third management period (1990–1993) experienced favorable outcomes. Improvements in critical-care techniques and the management of vasospasm may be associated with the improved outcome observed during this series.

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Association of a younger age with an increased risk of angiographic and symptomatic vasospasms following subarachnoid hemorrhage

Clinical article

Suresh N. Magge, H. Isaac Chen, Rohan Ramakrishna, Liyi Cen, Zhen Chen, J. Paul Elliott, H. Richard Winn, and Peter D. Le Roux


Vasospasm is a leading cause of morbidity and death following aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). It is important to predict which patients are at risk for vasospasm so that interventions can be made. There are several potential risk factors for vasospasm, one of which is age. However, the effect of age on vasospasm, particularly symptomatic vasospasm, remains controversial.


Three hundred ninety-one patients were retrospectively identified from a prospective observational database of patients with SAH who had been admitted to a single center. Demographic and clinical data were recorded, and cerebral angiograms obtained at admission and between 5 and 10 days later were compared. The relationship between age and angiographic and symptomatic vasospasms was examined using logistic regression techniques.


Mild (86 patients), moderate (69 patients), severe (56 patients), and no angiographic vasospasms (180 patients) were documented by comparing admission and follow-up angiograms in each patient. Symptomatic vasospasm was identified in 69 patients (17.6%). Angiographic vasospasm was more frequent as age decreased. Except in patients < 30 years old, the frequency of symptomatic vasospasm also increased with decreasing age (p = 0.0001). After adjusting for variables known to be associated with vasospasm, an advanced age was associated with a reduced incidence of any angiographic vasospasm (OR 0.96, 95% CI 0.94–0.97), severe angiographic vasospasm (OR 0.96, 95% CI 0.95–0.98), and symptomatic vasospasm (OR 0.98, 95% CI 0.96–0.99).


Results in this study show that a younger age is associated with an increased incidence of angiographic and symptomatic vasospasm.