Thirty-two patients with CT-documented primary brainstem haemorrhage were reviewed retrospectively to obtain a clearer overall clinical picture, especially of the severely disabled survivors. They were divided into 3 groups according to outcome: eleven cases (Group 1) died within 1 month following haemorrhage, 11 cases (Group 2) survived but became bedridden, necessitating full living support, and 10 cases (Group 3) showed minimal neurological deficits and resumed normal activities. Owing to CT and improved critical care, the survival rate was 66% for the whole series. Group 2 comprised 34% of all cases. These patients were mostly alert, quadruplegic, and communicated only with great difficulty.
The most common initial symptoms and CT finding in each group were as follows;Group 1: unconsciousness, respiratory disturbance, negative light reflex, tachycardia, and haematoma >3.0 cm;Group 2: disturbance of consciousness, respiratory disturbance, positive light reflex, normal heart rate, and 2.0> haematoma <3.5 cm; andGroup 3: alertness or only slight disturbance of consciousness, normal respiration, positive light reflex, normal heart rate, haematoma <2.5 cm. Although there is an overlap among them, these findings will be useful to distinguish the three groups from each other. Patients with disturbance of consciousness, respiratory disturbance, positive light reflex, normal heart rate, and 2.0> haematoma <3.5 cm, have a chance to survive, but in severely disabled condition, if they were treated with vigorous intensive care in the acute stage.