Use of 23.4% Saline in Symptomatic Vasospasm and Cushing’s Triad to Prevent Herniation and Death: A Case Report

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A 53-year-old woman with migraines presented with Hunt-Hess grade 5 and Fisher grade 4 subarachnoid hemorrhage with intraventricular hemorrhage. She experienced severe vasospasm requiring intra-arterial medications. Continued vasospasm and edema resulted in Cushing’s triad with profound tachypnea. Three percentage saline was administered twice without improvement. Despite the general practice to wait until complete neurologic deterioration before administering 23.4% saline, it was administered on 2 separate occasions, once after the failure of the 2 boluses of 3% saline and once on the reappearance of Cushing’s triad 24 hours later, and on each occasion produced overall clinical improvement. The patient was subsequently discharged to a rehabilitation facility and then home. A paradigm shift to earlier intervention with 23.4% saline may improve overall outcomes in patients with severe intracranial hypertension refractory to 3% saline and impending herniation.

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