Send to

Choose Destination
Anaesthesist. 1995 Apr;44(4):219-29.

[Cerebral vasospasm following aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage. Therapeutic value of treatment with calcium antagonists, hypervolemic hemodilution and induced arterial hypertension].

[Article in German]

Author information

Klinik für Anaesthesiologie und Operative Intensivmedizin, Klinikum Benjamin Franklin, FU, Berlin.


Only 53%-58% of patients with a subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAB) following the rupture of a cerebral aneurysm survive without neurological damage. Morbidity and mortality are closely related to the delayed ischaemic neurological deficit due to cerebral vasospasm. The following review gives an account of pathophysiological mechanisms; the importance of treatment with calcium antagonists, hypervolaemic haemodilution, and induced arterial hypertension is discussed in light of the current literature.


In addition to other vasoactive substances in the blood, haemoglobin, which is released from lysed erythrocytes on the 2nd to 4th day after the haemorrhage, plays an important role in inducing vasospasm. An inflammatory angiopathy ensues, with complete resolution after 6-12 weeks. The cerebral blood flow (CBF) is reduced depending on the extent of vasospasm. Irreversible infarction may follow the decrease of CBF below a critical value. Severe vasospasm causes autoregulatory disturbances and reduced responsiveness of cerebral vessels to CO2. CALCIUM ANTAGONISTS. The calcium blocker nimodipine causes dilatation of small pial vessels with increased CBF. However, systemic vasodilation with the subsequent fall in blood pressure may limit the increase in CBF. Furthermore, it is known that nimodipine decreases intracellular calcium concentrations resulting in some protection against ischaemic cellular injury. Seven placebo-controlled clinical studies have shown that nimodipine improves the outcome of patients with severe neurological damage due to cerebral vasospasm. HYPERVOLAEMIC HAEMODILUTION. Volume expansion and haemodilution to a hematocrit of 30%-33% is suggested to improve cerebral perfusion during vasospasm. The central venous and pulmonary capillary wedge pressures should be 10-12 mm Hg and 15-18 mm Hg, respectively. But there is no evidence of improved outcome with this measure, and pulmonary edema is a frequent side effect. However, impairment of cerebral perfusion and increased neurological damage can be demonstrated with hypovolaemia and haemoconcentration. INDUCED ARTERIAL HYPERTENSION. In the presence of cerebral vasospasm and resulting autoregulatory disturbances, cerebral perfusion can be increased by raising systemic arterial pressure. This measure, too, fails to improve neurological outcome.


Treatment of cerebral vasospasm following a SAB aims to avoid any impairment of cerebral perfusion. Hypovolaemia and haemoconcentration have to be corrected. Normoventilation should be established to avoid hypocapnic vasoconstriction. Nimodipine should be administered continuously after a SAB. In view of the autoregulatory disturbances, systemic hypotension with its danger of decreased CBF must be prevented. The importance of hypervolaemic haemodilution and/or induced arterial hypertension is not clear. Despite therapeutic efforts, the number of patients who have survived a SAB without a substantial neurological deficit has not increased.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center