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Neurology. 2010 Mar 16;74(11):893-9. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e3181d55efa.

Atraumatic convexal subarachnoid hemorrhage: clinical presentation, imaging patterns, and etiologies.

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Department of Neurology, Stroke Division, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA 02215, USA.



To identify patterns of clinical presentation, imaging findings, and etiologies in a cohort of hospitalized patients with localized nontraumatic convexal subarachnoid hemorrhage.


Twenty-nine consecutive patients with atraumatic convexal subarachnoid hemorrhage were identified using International Classification of Diseases-9 code from 460 patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage evaluated at our institution over a course of 5 years. Retrospective review of patient medical records, neuroimaging studies, and follow-up data was performed.


There were 16 women and 13 men between the ages of 29 and 87 years. Two common patterns of presentations were observed. The most frequent presenting symptom in patients < or =60 years (n = 16) was a severe headache (n = 12; 75%) of abrupt onset (n = 9; 56%) with arterial narrowing on conventional angiograms in 4 patients; 10 (p = 0.003) were presumptively diagnosed with a primary vasoconstriction syndrome. Patients >60 years (n = 13) usually had temporary sensory or motor symptoms (n = 7; 54%); brain MRI scans in these patients showed evidence of leukoaraiosis and/or hemispheric microbleeds and superficial siderosis (n = 9; 69%), compatible with amyloid angiopathy (n = 10; p < 0.0001). In a small group of patients, the presentation was more varied and included lethargy, fever, and confusion. Four patients older than 60 years had recurrent intracerebral hemorrhages in the follow-up period with 2 fatalities.


Convexal subarachnoid hemorrhage is an important subtype of nonaneurysmal subarachnoid bleeding with diverse etiologies, though a reversible vasoconstriction syndrome appears to be a common cause in patients 60 years or younger whereas amyloid angiopathy is frequent in patients over 60. These observations require confirmation in future studies.

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