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Intraventricular Nicardipine for Refractory Cerebral Vasospasm after Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

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Delayed ischemic deficit from vasospasm is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality after aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage. Although several treatment modalities have been used to reverse the deleterious effects of vasospasm, alternative therapies are needed, as conventional therapies are often ineffective or contraindicated. Intrathecal nicardipine has been suggested for the prevention of vasospasm. We report our clinical experience with intraventricular nicardipine for refractory vasospasm in eight patients in whom conventional therapies were ineffective, contraindicated, or technically not feasible.


Retrospective case series performed at a tertiary care university hospital.


Eight patients (median Hunt-Hess grade = 2, median Fisher score = 4) with refractory vasospasm received intraventricular nicardipine (4 mg every 12 h) for a total of 5–17 days. One patient died in the intensive care unit. Seven patients had moderate to good outcomes with 6 being discharged to home (median Rankin Score = 2). Intraventricular nicardipine was well tolerated with minimal side effects.


Our preliminary observations suggest that intraventricular nicardipine could be considered as a safe and effective treatment modality to treat vasospasm refractory to conventional management. A randomized, controlled trial to verify the efficacy and safety of intrathecal nicardipine in the prevention and treatment of cerebral vasospasm is warranted.

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The authors wish to thank the members of the Neurosurgery Department and the Neurosciences ICU staff at the Medical University of South Carolina for the care provided to the patients described here.

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Correspondence to Julio A. Chalela.

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Goodson, K., Lapointe, M., Monroe, T. et al. Intraventricular Nicardipine for Refractory Cerebral Vasospasm after Subarachnoid Hemorrhage. Neurocrit Care 8, 247–252 (2008).

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