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Evaluation of Headache Severity after Aneurysmal Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

Authors
Journal
Interdisciplinary Neurosurgery
2214-7519
Publisher
Elsevier
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.inat.2014.07.003
Keywords
  • Vasospasm
  • Analgesia
  • Caffeine
  • Pain
  • Headache
  • Stroke
Disciplines
  • Medicine

Abstract

Abstract Objective The most common complaint from patients after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) is headache. The headache appears to be persistent and often severe. Although this problem is pervasive in the care of SAH patients, very little data have been published to describe the nature and severity of the headache nor is there evidence-based guidance on the appropriate treatment of headache due to SAH. Methods This was a retrospective medical record review of adults with aneurysmal SAH. Basic demographics, along with pain scores and analgesic medication administration, were collected. Patients with early vasospasm (within 7 days of ictus) were compared with patients with no vasospasm. Results The patient population was characteristic of the typical SAH population. Approximately 31.5% of patients exhibited early vasospasm. These patients had higher pain scores (median 8/10) than did patients without vasospasm (median 6/10) and required more analgesics such as acetaminophen/butalbital/caffeine. Treatment success with any analgesic used in this population was minimal. The pain scores associated with headache increased over the first 7 days in both groups. Conclusions Headache after SAH is persistent and treatment refractory. There may be an association with development of vasospasm and worsening of headache. Novel treatment strategies to attenuate headache in this population are needed.

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