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The negative angiogram in subarachnoid haemorrhage


Our purpose was to review the incidence of negative cerebral panangiography in acute nontraumatic subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH); to document the amount and distribution of subarachnoid blood on CT and determine its relationship to findings on repeat angiography; and to study the outcome of these patients from the time of presentation to hospital discharge. From 1983 to 1992, 295 patients underwent cerebral angiography for acute SAH at our institution. The CT, angiographic and MRI findings and clinical course of patients with initially negative angiograms were reviewed retrospectively. The overall incidence of negative cerebral panangiography was 31% (92/295). An aneurysm was disclosed on a second angiogram in 4 cases, and on a third angiogram in 1, giving a total false negative rate of 5%. In 55% of cases, only a small amount of SAH was present on CT. The distribution of the subarachnoid blood was nonspecific and resembled the pattern seen in aneurysmal SAH. Ninetyfour percent, of the patients presented in Hunt-Hess grades I and II. The complications of conservative treatment were few: a rebleed rate of 4%, delayed cerebral ischemia in 4%, cerebral infarcts in 8% and hydrocephalus requiring shunting in 3%. On discharge, 93% of patients had recovered completely and the others were left with moderate disability. There were two deaths related to massive rebleeding. Patients with perimesencephalic SAH (35%) fared particularly well; none developed complications during their hospital stay and repeat angiograms never revealed an underlying aneurysm. In such cases, further angiographic investigations do not seem warranted.

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Correspondence to H. Duong.

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Duong, H., Melancon, D., Tampieri, D. et al. The negative angiogram in subarachnoid haemorrhage. Neuroradiology 38, 15–19 (1996).

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Key words

  • Angiography
  • Subarachnoid haemorrhage