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Surg Neurol. 1998 May;49(5):563-5.

Acute hydrocephalus after subarachnoid hemorrhage.

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National Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Mexico City, Mexico.



Acute hydrocephalus as a consequence of subarachnoid hemorrhage is a relatively frequent problem. It is associated with more neurologic impairment and mortality than subarachnoid hemorrhage without hydrocephalus. A review of the literature was done to determine its frequency of presentation, the associated causes of morbidity and mortality, its clinical presentation, and treatment options.


A search was done through the Med-Line system to obtain pertinent literature of the last 10 years. Articles before this date were obtained from references from the original search.


Acute hydrocephalus is present in 20% of patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage. One third of them may be asymptomatic on admission; 50% of those who have clinical hydrocephalus recover spontaneously within the first 24 h. The presence of acute hydrocephalus after subarachnoid hemorrhage is associated with additional morbidity and higher mortality secondary to rebleeding, to cerebral infarction or to shunt infection. Once hydrocephalus develops, ventricular size is not related to the clinical status of the patient, nor to the associated complications.


If a patient presents with subarachnoid hemorrhage accompanied by acute hydrocephalus and preserved level of consciousness, he/she should be carefully observed for the first 24 h. If deterioration of consciousness ensues and is not attributable to rebleeding or metabolic causes, ventriculostomy should be performed. If a patient presents with subarachnoid hemorrhage accompanied by acute hydrocephalus and depressed level of consciousness ventriculostomy should be immediately placed. After ventriculostomy, intracranial pressure should be maintained above 15 mm Hg to prevent rebleeding. Prophylactic antibiotics and long subcutaneous catheters should be used to avoid shunt infections.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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