Objective: To evaluate the role of 23.4% saline in the management of transtentorial herniation (TTH) in patients with supratentorial lesions.
Methods: Consecutive patients with clinically defined TTH treated with 23.4% saline (30 to 60 mL) were included in a retrospective cohort. Factors associated with successful reversal of TTH were determined.
Results: Seventy-six TTH events occurred in 68 patients admitted with intracerebral hemorrhage (n = 29), subarachnoid hemorrhage (n = 16), stroke (n = 8), brain tumor (n = 8), subdural hematoma (n = 5), epidural hematoma (n = 1), and meningitis (n = 1). In addition to 23.4% saline, TTH management included hyperventilation (70% of events), mannitol (57%), propofol (62%), pentobarbital (15%), ventriculostomy drainage (27%), and decompressive hemicraniectomy (18%). Reversal of TTH occurred in 57/76 events (75%). Intracranial pressure decreased from 23 +/- 16 mm Hg at the time of TTH to 14 +/- 10 mm Hg at 1 hour (p = 0.002), and 11 +/- 12 mm Hg at 24 hours (p = 0.001) among 22 patients with intracranial pressure monitors. Reversal of TTH was predicted by a >/=5 mmol/L rise in serum sodium concentration (p = 0.001) or an absolute serum sodium of >/=145 mmol/L (p = 0.007) 1 hour after 23.4% saline. Adverse effects included transient hypotension in 13 events (17%); no evidence of central pontine myelinolysis was detected on post-herniation MRI (n = 18). Twenty-two patients (32%) survived to discharge, with severe disability in 17 and mild to moderate disability in 5.
Conclusion: Treatment with 23.4% saline was associated with rapid reversal of transtentorial herniation (TTH) and reduced intracranial pressure, and had few adverse effects. Outcomes of TTH were poor, but medical reversal may extend the window for adjunctive treatments.