Background: I received a text message from one of my colleagues inquiring about discharging a patient home with isolated traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage and to be honest I had heard about this practice, but was not completely aware of the literature around it. Turns out from a PubMed search there was a meta-analysis published just this past year trying to answer this very question. When I was a resident, which is not that long ago, the standard practice was for patients to be assessed by neurosurgery for management which usually involved ICU admission or a trip to the OR with ICU admission. Isolated traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage (itSAH) is typically defined as the presence of a SAH in the absence of any other traumatic radiographic intracranial pathology. So the question is, is it safe to discharge patients home with itSAH? Read more →
Tag Archive for: Subarachnoid Hemorrhage
Background: Headache accounts for approximately 2% of all ED visits. One of the most serious etiologies of headache is aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), which accounts for 4 – 12% of ED patients with thunderclap headache. There have been several studies in the past few years suggesting that in neurologically intact patients, the sensitivity of modern CT scanners for SAH approaches 100% if performed within 6 hours of headache onset and interpreted by qualified radiologists. If true this data suggests that an LP may not be necessary to rule out SAH and an initial negative CT can be considered a rule-out test. Read more →
Background: Although non-contrast head CT (NCHCT) has near perfect sensitivity (98-100%) in detecting aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) when performed within 6 hours of headache onset, sensitivity declines after 6 hours. As a result of declining sensitivity, lumbar puncture (LP) continues to be part of the workup in suspected SAH. An LP gives providers the ability to perform CSF analysis for red blood cells and detect xanthochromia by visual inspection or spectrophotometry. In most of the world, including the United States, the predominant approach to identifying xanthochromia is visual detection. However, this technique is subjective and considered unreliable by many. Spectrophotometry is a more objective test but, has lower specificity, carries a higher cost and is unavailable in the majority of hospitals.
In patients with SAH diagnosed by NCHCT or suspected based on LP results, angiography (CTA or MRA) is typically performed to investigate for an aneurysm that requires neurosurgical intervention. Angiography is considered to be the “gold standard” test for looking for aneurysmal SAH although it is not without it’s own limitations (a small minority of the population will have benign aneurysms and these increase with age). Read more →
Background: The traditional standard workup for ruling out subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) has been a non-contrast head CT and, if negative, a lumbar puncture. The thought behind this is that the sensitivity of head CT to rule out SAH is not 100% and declines over time and missing a SAH is potentially devastating. There has been a series of studies published in the past few years looking at the value of a negative head CT scan performed within 6 hours of headache onset in ruling out SAH. I have heard many say that if they have a negative Head CT at 6 hours or less in a neurologically intact patient they would not perform a lumbar puncture. Read more →
Recently, I have been asked if there are any studies that have been performed over the past few years that should shape the way emergency medicine physicians should practice and can greatly improve patient care. So I asked some of my friends and colleagues if there are any studies that stick out in their minds. Below is a list of four game changers in emergency medicine that others felt were of importance. Read more →