Comparison of Initial Vasopressors Used for Delayed Cerebral Ischemia after Aneurysmal Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

Bhaskar Roy, Louise D. McCullough, Rajat Dhar, James Grady, Yu Bo Wang, Robert J. Brown

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22 Scopus citations


Background: The main reason for morbidity after aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH) is delayed cerebral ischemia (DCI). The mainstay of medical therapy for treating DCI is induced hypertension with vasopressors to restore cerebral perfusion. Both phenylephrine (PE) and norepinephrine (NE) are commonly used for induced hypertension, but the impact of the initial choice of vasopressor on the efficacy, adverse effects, or outcome after hemodynamic therapy for DCI is unknown. Methods: Sixty-three patients with aSAH between January 2012 and October 2014, who developed DCI (defined as new focal deficit or decline in Glasgow Coma Score) and in which PE (n = 45) or NE (n = 18) treatment was initiated were evaluated in this retrospective study. Baseline characteristics, adverse effects, the need to change or add vasopressors, the response to therapy, the need for endovascular therapy, new infarct development, discharge disposition, and 3 months modified Rankin score were all compared between pressor groups. Results: Baseline characteristics (e.g., Hunt Hess and Fisher grades) were similar. There were no differences in the overall rate of complications including arrhythmia, pulmonary edema, or kidney injury. However, those initiated on PE were more likely to be changed to an alternate vasopressor (64 vs. 33%, p = 0.016), mostly for bradycardia or failure to reach therapeutic targets. Patients initially treated with PE were less likely to respond neurologically (71 vs. 94%, p = 0.01) or to be discharged to home or acute rehabilitation facilities (73 vs. 94%, p = 0.02) and were more likely to have a delayed infarct on imaging (62 vs. 33%, p = 0.04). Conclusions: Our study suggests that patients with DCI after aSAH initiated on PE are more likely to require treatment change to another vasopressor and are at greater risk for poor clinical outcomes compared to patients started on NE. Larger comparative studies are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-271
Number of pages6
JournalCerebrovascular Diseases
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • Delayed cerebral ischemia
  • Vasopressors


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