Traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage on the computerized tomography scan obtained at admission: a multicenter assessment of the accuracy of diagnosis and the potential impact on patient outcome

J Neurosurg. 2003 Jan;98(1):37-42. doi: 10.3171/jns.2003.98.1.0037.


Object: The goal of this study was fourfold: 1) to determine the incidence of traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage (tSAH) in patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI); 2) to verify agreement in the diagnosis of tSAH in a multicenter study; 3) to assess the incidence of tSAH on the outcome of the patient; and 4) to establish whether tSAH itself leads to an unfavorable outcome or whether it is a sign of major brain trauma associated with severe posttraumatic lesions.

Methods: Computerized tomography (CT) scans obtained in 169 head-injured patients on admission to 12 Italian intensive care units during a 3-month period were examined. The scans were collected for neuroradiological review and were used for the analysis together with data from a multicenter database (Neurolink). A review committee found a high incidence of tSAH (61%) in patients with TBI and a moderate agreement among centers (K = 0.57). Significant associations were observed between the presence and grading of tSAH and patient outcomes, and between the presence of tSAH and the severity of the CT findings. Logistic regression analysis showed that the presence of tSAH and its grading alone do not assume statistical significance in the prediction of unfavorable outcome.

Conclusions: Traumatic SAH frequently occurs in patients with TBI, but it is difficult to detect and grade. Traumatic SAH is associated with more severe CT findings and a worse patient outcome.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain Injuries / complications
  • Brain Injuries / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain Injuries / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Patient Admission*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage, Traumatic / diagnostic imaging*
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage, Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage, Traumatic / etiology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • Trauma Severity Indices