Aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage in young adults

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Object. The authors reviewed the management protocols for young adults who presented with subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) at the Regional Neurosurgery Unit in Newcastle during a study period of 9 years. Aneurysmal SAH is uncommon in the age group selected (18–39 years) and, therefore, the performance of these patients has not been extensively reported in the literature. The authors also evaluated the good-grade rebleed rate (an index of management efficiency) in this cohort of patients.

Methods. The Newcastle neurosurgical unit serves a population of close to 3 million people, and an average of 180 patients with SAH are seen each year. The majority of patients are transferred from other hospitals in the region. This study includes patients admitted between January 1990 and December 1998. A total of 1609 patients were admitted during this period, of whom 295 (18.4%) between the ages of 18 and 39 years constituted the study population of young adults.

Two hundred ninety-five young adults presented with SAH; 181 (61.4%) were women and 114 (38.6%) were men, a ratio of 3:2. Of 246 patients in whom this value was recorded, 15 (6.1%) presented with a history of hypertension, and there was an association between hypertension and the occurrence of multiple aneurysms (Fisher two-tailed exact test, p = 0.008). Thirty-five patients (11.9%) presented with a hematoma on computerized tomography scans; of these, 20 (57%) were women and 15 were men.

In six patients the lesion had rebled before treatment. The good-grade rebleed rate was three (1.7%) of 178. The overall favorable outcome rate was 83.8% (Glasgow Outcome Scale [GOS] 4 and 5) and unfavorable outcome occurred in 16.2% (GOS 1–3), with a total of 40 deaths in this group (13%). Age had no influence on outcome in young adults. Comparing the outcome at discharge with the follow-up evaluation at 6 months revealed that patients in the moderate and severe disability groups continued to improve and many achieved good recovery.

Conclusions. In this report the authors detail the outcome of a large number of young adults with SAH. The incidence of SAH was higher in the female population, although the ratio was not as high as previously reported. The authors have also demonstrated a progressive increase in the incidence of aneurysmal SAH with age, even in young adults. Hypertension but not age influenced the occurrence of multiple aneurysms. The good-grade rebleed rate is low, although it is not zero. Generally, a satisfactory outcome was obtained and significant continuing improvements were noted between discharge and follow-up evaluation. This reflects the power of recovery in young adults. These are people whose economic productivity and fertility are at peak levels and therefore the financial and social burden occasioned by less-than-perfect outcomes is large.

Article Information

Address reprint requests to: Biodun Ogungbo, M.B.B.S., F.R.C.S., Department of Neurosurgery, Newcastle General Hospital, Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE4 6BE, United Kingdom. email: biodun-ogungbo@supanet.com.

© AANS, except where prohibited by US copyright law.

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    Graph showing the change in outcome between time of discharge and follow-up evaluation of GOS score at 6 months. The numbers within the arrows indicate the movement of those numbers of patients from one GOS category to another.

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