Comparison of induced hypertension, fluid bolus, and blood transfusion to augment cerebral oxygen delivery after subarachnoid hemorrhage. Clinical article

Rajat Dhar, Michael T. Scalfani, Allyson R. Zazulia, Tom O. Videen, Colin P. Derdeyn, Michael N. Diringer

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Object. Critical reductions in oxygen delivery (DO 2) underlie the development of delayed cerebral ischemia (DCI) after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). If DO 2 is not promptly restored, then irreversible injury (that is, cerebral infarction) may result. Hemodynamic therapies for DCI (that is, induced hypertension [IH] and hypervolemia) aim to improve DO 2 by raising cerebral blood flow (CBF). Red blood cell (RBC) transfusion may be an alternate strategy that augments DO 2 by improving arterial O 2 content. The authors compared the relative ability of these 3 interventions to improve cerebral DO 2, specifically their ability to restore DO 2 to regions where it is impaired. Methods. The authors compared 3 prospective physiological studies in which PET imaging was used to measure global and regional CBF and DO 2 before and after the following treatments: 1) fluid bolus of 15 ml/kg normal saline (9 patients); 2) raising mean arterial pressure 25% (12 patients); and 3) transfusing 1 U of RBCs (17 patients) in 38 individuals with aneurysmal SAH at risk for DCI. Response between groups in regions with low DO 2 (&λτ; 4.5 ml/100 g/min) was compared using repeated-measures ANOVA. Results. Groups were similar except that the fluid bolus cohort had more patients with symptoms of DCI and lower baseline CBF. Global CBF or DO 2 did not rise significantly after any of the interventions, except after transfusion in patients with hemoglobin levels &λτ; 9 g/dl. All 3 treatments improved CBF and DO 2 to regions with impaired baseline DO 2, with a greater improvement after transfusion (23%) than hypertension (14%) or volume loading (10%); p &λτ; 0.001. Transfusion also resulted in a nonsignificantly greater (47%) reduction in the number of brain regions with low DO 2 when compared with fluid bolus (7%) and hypertension (12%) (p = 0.33). Conclusions. The IH, fluid bolus, and blood transfusion interventions all improve DO 2 to vulnerable brain regions at risk for ischemia after SAH. Transfusion appeared to provide a physiological benefit at least comparable to IH, especially among patients with anemia, but transfusion is associated with risks. The clinical significance of these findings remains to be established in controlled clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)648-656
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • Blood transfusion
  • Cerebral ischemia
  • Cerebrovascular circulation
  • Intracranial pressure
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • Triple-H therapy
  • Vascular disorders
  • Vasospasm


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