High-dose intraarterial verapamil in the treatment of cerebral vasospasm after aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage

J Neurosurg. 2008 Mar;108(3):458-63. doi: 10.3171/JNS/2008/108/3/0458.


Object: Because oral calcium channel blockers appear to reduce the severity of cerebral vasospasm after aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), interest in their application intraarterially has emerged for cases in which noninvasive means of alleviating vasospasm are unsuccessful. Studies to date have been limited to the administration of low intraarterial doses because of concerns about hemodynamic stability and changes in intracranial pressure. These doses, although effective in cases of milder vasospasm, were inadequate in severe cases. The authors present a series of 10 patients with cerebral vasospasm who underwent 12 procedures in which they received > or = 20 mg of intraarterial verapamil per procedure.

Methods: A retrospective review was undertaken of all patients who underwent endovascular treatment for cerebral vasospasm due to aneurysmal SAH by the senior author between February 2005 and October 2006. Ten patients were identified who had undergone a total of 12 procedures during which > or =20 mg of intraarterial verapamil had been administered. From angiography reports, anesthesia records, and nursing records, we obtained pre- and postverapamil mean arterial blood pressures (MABPs), heart rates, intracranial pressures (ICPs) (when available), and visible changes in the degree of vasospasm.

Results: No statistically significant changes in MABP, heart rate, or ICP were observed after administration of > or = 20 mg of intraarterial verapamil, and the degree of improvement in vasospasm was statistically significant based on our grading system. No correlation was found between the change in hemodynamic parameters and the total dose of verapamil.

Conclusions: This study indicates that high-dose intraarterial verapamil may be used to treat cerebral vasospasm without compromising hemodynamic stability or increasing ICP.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / administration & dosage*
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / pharmacology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intra-Arterial
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / complications*
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / diagnostic imaging
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / physiopathology
  • Intracranial Pressure / drug effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage / complications*
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage / diagnostic imaging
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage / physiopathology
  • Vasospasm, Intracranial / diagnostic imaging
  • Vasospasm, Intracranial / drug therapy*
  • Vasospasm, Intracranial / etiology
  • Verapamil / administration & dosage*
  • Verapamil / pharmacology


  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Verapamil