Background: Only a small percentage of World Federation of Neurologic Surgeons grade V aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage patients have a favorable outcome. The influence of clinical parameters on outcome was assessed.
Methods: Retrospective evaluation of consecutive patients admitted from 2000-2007 with grade V subarachnoid hemorrhage at two institutions by evaluating, over time, the motor value of the Glasgow Coma Scale, effects of external ventricular drainage and rebleeding on outcome. Six-month outcome was assessed with the extended Glasgow Outcome Scale; favorable outcome was defined as good recovery or moderately disabled.
Findings: Of 126 patients, 28 had absent brainstem reflexes, without improvement after external ventricular drainage. Rebleeding occurred in 26 patients, resulting in treatment withdrawal in 14. Only one patient had a favorable outcome after rebleeding. Of the 84 remaining patients, 61 improved at day 2 after subarachnoid hemorrhage to Glasgow Coma Scale motor value ≥4; 24 of these (39%) had a favorable outcome. All 23 patients with a Glasgow Coma Scale motor value ≤3 had an unfavorable outcome or died. Patients younger than 65 yrs of age had a better outcome (p < .03). Hydrocephalus was present in 71 of 84 patients. Favorable outcome was similar for patients with a positive external ventricular drainage response (8 of 28) as compared to no response to external ventricular drainage (12 of 43).
Interpretation: The high rebleeding rate and subsequent poor outcome in World Federation of Neurologic Surgeons grade V patients warrants early treatment to secure the ruptured aneurysm. Favorable outcome was seen in 39% of patients with a Glasgow Coma Scale motor value ≥4 at day 2. In this study, patients with Glasgow Coma Scale motor value ≤3 at day 2 all had a very poor prognosis.