Background: Intracerebral microdialysis (MD) was applied in patients with severe subarachnoid haemorrhage treated in a neurosurgical intensive care unit in order to explore their cerebral energy metabolism.
Method: Brain MD fluid levels of glucose, lactate and pyruvate were measured for 3 to 12 days in 20 patients and 2,635 hourly samples were analysed. The MD data were related to computerized tomography and clinical outcome, assessed by the Glasgow Outcome Scale.
Findings: The study showed that most patients who made a good recovery had a specific curve pattern when plotting the studied metabolites over time, characterised by a distinct decrease in MD-glucose and a parallel increase in both MD-lactate and pyruvate. Patients who had an unfavourable outcome lacked this distinct curve pattern and exhibited more irregular changes, including increased levels of both MD-glucose and lactate and low MD-pyruvate levels.
Interpretation: This exploratory study suggests that accumulation of interstitial lactate and pyruvate, together with decreasing levels of glucose is a favourable prognostic pattern presumably reflecting increased glucose metabolism. Such hyperglycolysis may be elicited in patients with recovery potential to cope with an extreme metabolic demand set in motion by a brain insult to restore brain cell homeostasis and integrity.