Background: There has been longstanding controversy over the use of magnesium sulfate infusion in the medical management of aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). Several clinical trials evaluating the beneficial effects of magnesium on cerebral vasospasm and their poor outcome have been published. However, results from the majority of these studies have been inconclusive. This meta-analysis was performed to evaluate the effectiveness of magnesium on patient outcomes after aneurysmal SAH.
Materials and methods: PubMed and the Cochrane library were searched for controlled clinical trials assessing the efficacy of magnesium sulfate infusion after aneurysmal SAH. Eight studies consisting of 936 patients were included.
Results: There was a decreased risk of poor outcome at 3-6 months after SAH in magnesium treatment groups when compared to placebo [0.78 (95% CI 0.66-0.93)]. Poor outcome was defined as severe disability, persistent vegetative state, or death, as measured by the Glasgow outcome scale (GOS), extended Glasgow outcome scale (GOSE) or modified Rankin scale (mRS). The risk of mortality after SAH was unaffected by magnesium treatment [RR 0.68 (95% CI 0.58-1.27)].
Conclusion: Magnesium sulfate infusion decreases risk of poor outcome after aneurysmal SAH. Current studies in the literature do not suggest a role for magnesium sulfate in mortality reduction after SAH.
Keywords: Cerebral vasospasm; delayed cerebral ischemia; magnesium sulfate; subarachnoid hemorrhage.