Cerebral amyloid angiopathy-associated intracerebral hemorrhage: pathology and management

Neurosurg Focus. 2012 Apr;32(4):E7. doi: 10.3171/2012.1.FOCUS11370.


Amyloid angiopathy-associated intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) comprises 12%-15% of lobar ICH in the elderly. This growing population has an increasing incidence of thrombolysis-related hemorrhages, causing the management of hemorrhages associated with cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA) to take center stage. A concise reference assimilating the pathology and management of this clinical entity does not exist. Amyloid angiopathy-associated hemorrhages are most often solitary, but the natural history often progresses to include multifocal and recurrent hemorrhages. Compared with other causes of ICH, patients with CAA-associated hemorrhages have a lower mortality rate but an increased risk of recurrence. Unlike hypertensive arteriolar hemorrhages that occur in penetrating subcortical vessels, CAA-associated hemorrhages are superficial in location due to preferential involvement of vessels in the cerebral cortex and meninges. This feature makes CAA-associated hemorrhages easier to access surgically. In this paper, the authors discuss 3 postulates regarding the pathogenesis of amyloid hemorrhages, as well as the established clinicopathological classification of amyloid angiopathy and CAA-associated ICH. Common inheritance patterns of familial CAA with hemorrhagic strokes are discussed along with the role of genetic screening in relatives of patients with CAA. The radiological characteristics of CAA are described with specific attention to CAA-associated microhemorrhages. The detection of these microhemorrhages may have important clinical implications on the administration of anticoagulation and antiplatelet therapy in patients with probable CAA. Poor patient outcome in CAA-associated ICH is associated with dementia, increasing age, hematoma volume and location, initial Glasgow Coma Scale score, and intraventricular extension. The surgical management strategies for amyloid hemorrhages are discussed with a review of published surgical case series and their outcomes with a special attention to postoperative hemorrhage.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use
  • Cerebral Amyloid Angiopathy / epidemiology
  • Cerebral Amyloid Angiopathy / pathology*
  • Cerebral Amyloid Angiopathy / surgery*
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / epidemiology
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / pathology*
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Intracranial Thrombosis / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / methods*
  • Risk Factors


  • Anticoagulants