Traumatic Subarachnoid Hemorrhage: A Scoping Review

J Neurotrauma. 2022 Jan;39(1-2):35-48. doi: 10.1089/neu.2021.0007. Epub 2021 Apr 22.


Sixty-nine million people have a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year, and TBI is the most common cause of subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). Traumatic SAH (TSAH) has been described as an adverse prognostic factor leading to progressive neurological deterioration and increased morbidity and mortality. A limited number of studies, however, evaluate recent trends in the diagnosis and management of SAH in the context of trauma. The objective of this scoping review was to understand the extent and type of evidence concerning the diagnostic criteria and management of TSAH. This scoping review was conducted following the Joanna Briggs Institute methodology for scoping reviews. The review included adults with SAH secondary to trauma, where isolated TSAH (iTSAH) refers to the presence of SAH in the absence of any other traumatic radiographic intracranial pathology, and TSAH refers to the presence of SAH with the possibility or presence of additional traumatic radiographic intracranial pathology. Data extracted from each study included study aim, country, methodology, population characteristics, outcome measures, a summary of findings, and future directives. Thirty studies met inclusion criteria. Studies were grouped into five categories by topic: TSAH associated with mild TBI (mTBI), n = 13), and severe TBI (n = 3); clinical management and diagnosis (n = 9); imaging (n = 3); and aneurysmal TSAH (n = 1). Of the 30 studies, two came from a low- and middle-income country (LMIC), excluding China, nearly a high-income country. Patients with TSAH associated with mTBI have a very low risk of clinical deterioration and surgical intervention and should be treated conservatively when considering intensive care unit admission. The Helsinki and Stockholm computed tomography scoring systems, in addition to the American Injury Scale, creatinine level, age decision tree, may be valuable tools to use when predicting outcome and death.

Keywords: SAH; TBI; neurotrauma; scoping review; subarachnoid hemorrhage; traumatic brain injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Concussion* / complications
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic* / complications
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic* / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage* / diagnostic imaging
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage* / etiology
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage* / therapy
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage, Traumatic* / diagnostic imaging
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage, Traumatic* / etiology
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage, Traumatic* / therapy