Factors implicated in deaths from subarachnoid haemorrhage: are they avoidable?

Br J Neurosurg. 1998 Feb;12(1):37-40. doi: 10.1080/02688699845492.


The major causes of death following subarachnoid haemorrhage are the effects of the initial bleed, aneurysmal rebleeding and delayed cerebral ischaemia. Although in many cases the causes are unavoidable, in others they are potentially preventable. By conducting a Regional Audit of patients who have died from subarachnoid haemorrhage, we have attempted to quantify these concerns. The medical records and CT scans of 200 patients who died from subarachnoid haemorrhage in hospitals in the East Anglian Region over a 5-year period were analysed, with particular regard to the identification of potentially avoidable factors, including radiologically confirmed rebleeding, marked hydrocephalus, and poor fluid and electrolyte resuscitation. Thirty-three patients presented with World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies (WFNS) Grade V with fixed pupils. These patients were deemed unsalvageable. Of the remainder, 106 were good grade (WFNS I-III) at initial presentation, 77 (73%) of whom died as a result of rebleeding (mean 10.4 days post-bleed) indicating delays in transfer and definitive treatment. Of the 61 poor grade patients (WFNS IV and V with reactive pupils) marked hydrocephalus occurred in 15 (25%) and poor resuscitation in 37 (61%). These were considered contributing factors to their poor clinical condition. Rebleeding was the main cause of death in the good grade patients, and correctable factors were identified which are known to contribute to a poor clinical condition in poor grade patients. The need for more rapid and active clinical intervention is indicated.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cause of Death*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • England
  • Female
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Humans
  • Hydrocephalus / mortality
  • Hydrocephalus / surgery
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Recurrence
  • Resuscitation / mortality
  • Risk Factors
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage / mortality*
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage / surgery
  • Survival Analysis
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed