The aim of this study was to analyse the results of intensive therapy unit management of aneurysmal subarachnoid haemorrhage incorporating angioplasty in the protocol. Two hundred consecutive patients were treated using a detailed protocol that included nimodipine, early aneurysm repair, and surveillance angiography. Angiography was performed on days 5 to 7 (or when the clinical state suggested the presence of vasospasm). If angiographic vasospasm was identified, irrespective of whether clinical vasospasm was present or absent, papaverine was selectively administered. In patients with vasospasm blood pressure was elevated to 160-180 mmHg and selective papaverine administration was repeated daily until vasospasm resolved. In cases requiring more frequent administration of papaverine, or in whom papaverine failed to adequately reverse spasm, balloon angioplasty was considered and for clinically refractory cases barbiturate coma was introduced. 43% of patients underwent papaverine administration and of these the average number of separate papaverine procedures was four (maximum 23). 26% of patients developed neurological deficits though to be due to vasospasm whilst 17% underwent papaverine angioplasty without clinical signs of vasospasm. Twelve patients (6%) were entered into barbiturate coma. There was a 5.5% mortality and no difference in outcome between patients who developed angiographic vasospasm and those who did not. For those developing clinical vasospasm, 71% were independent and 10% were dead at follow up compared with 84% reaching independent grades and 4% dead in those not developing clinical vasospasm. These differences failed to reach a significant difference. The average Intensive Therapy Unit stay for aneurysmal subarachnoid haemorrhage patients was 13.1 days with a mean cost to the hospital of $AUD 24,379. This protocol appears to be both a clinically and cost effective method of managing aneurysmal subarachnoid haemorrhage.
Copyright 2000 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.