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.