Background: Cerebrospinal fluid diversion may be necessary in the acute period after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) if patients develop hydrocephalus. Though there is an opinion that certain ‘severe grade’ patients, e.g. Hunt and Hess (HH) grades 3-5, should have external ventricular drain (EVD) placement, regardless of hydrocephalus, there is no firm data, leaving the decision up to the judgement of the evaluating clinical team.
Objective: We sought to measure changes in HH grades among grade 3-5 patients based on whether or not they had EVD placement.
Methods: We prospectively collect demographic, clinical, and radiographic data on our SAH patients since January 2014. We selected HH grades 3-5 patients and compared admission and discharge HH grades among groups of patients who underwent EVD placement or surgical decompression within the first 24 hours and those who did not, using chi square test.
Results: Among 54 total patients, there were 37 grades 3-5 patients (HH 3, n=26, 70.3%; HH 4, n=5, 13.5%; HH 5, n=6, 16.2%) in two groups: no EVD, n=22 (59.5%) and EVD, n=14 (37.8%, data unavailable for 1 patient). At discharge HH grades were: HH 1, n=10 (27%); HH 2, n=1 (2.7%); HH 3, n=10 (27%); HH 4, n=3 (8.1%); HH 5, n=1 (2.7%); dead, n=11 (29.7%); missing data, n=1. Mean age of 37 HH 3-5 patients was 58 years with no significant difference between the 2 groups. Hydrocephalus was seen in 11 of the 22 no EVD group and 13 of the 14 EVD group, p=0.007. Improvement in HH score between admission and discharge was seen in 10/14 EVD group, compared with 5/22 of the no EVD group, p=0.010. Worsening of HH score was found in 8/17 no EVD group (5 HH grade 5 patients excluded from this analysis), and 1 HH 4 patient (out of 14) in the EVD group, p=.014. Mortality occurred in 11/22 of the no EVD group (HH 3=5; HH 4-5=6) and 1/14 of the EVD group (HH 4, p=0.007).
Conclusion: While the presence of hydrocephalus could potentially be a determinant in the decision to place EVDs among HH grades 3-5 patients, clinical change in patients who did not have an EVD placed occurred independently of hydrocephalus. Improvement of HH grade was more frequent, while its worsening was less common, among patients who underwent EVD or surgery within the first 24 hours. Mortality of HH grade 3 patients may also be impacted with EVD placement.