Objective The efficacy of intra-arterial vasodilators (IADs) for the treatment of vasospasm following aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH) remains debatable. The objective of this meta-analysis was to pool estimates of angiographic and neurological response, clinical outcome, and mortality following treatment of vasospasm with IADs.
Methods We searched PubMed, Embase, Scopus, Clinicaltrials.gov, Cochrane database, and CINAHL in December 2015 and August 2016. Studies reporting angiographic and neurological response, clinical outcome, and mortality following IAD treatment of vasospasm in 10 or more adults with aSAH were included. All established IADs were allowed. Two authors independently selected studies and abstracted the data. Mean weighted probabilities (MWP) were calculated using random effects model.
Results Inclusion criteria were met by 55 studies (n=1571). MWP for immediate angiographic response to IAD treatment was 89% (95% CI 83% to 94%), post-IAD neurological improvement 57% (95% CI 49% to 65%), good outcome 66% (95% CI 60% to 71%), and mortality was 9% (95% CI 7% to 12%). After adjusting for publication bias, MWP for mortality was 5% (95% CI 4% to 7%). When transcranial Doppler (TCD) was used along with clinical deterioration for patient selection, rates of neurological response (64%) and good outcome (72%) were better. IADs were not superior to controls (balloon angioplasty or medical management).
Conclusion IAD treatment leads to a robust angiographic response and fair (but lower) rates of neurological response and good clinical outcome. Mortality was lower than the average reported in the literature. Rates of neurological response and good outcome were better when TCD was used for patient selection. Carefully designed studies are needed to compare IADs against medical management and balloon angioplasty.
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Contributors AV was responsible for data gathering, data abstraction, interpretation and preparing the manuscript and figures. AMK and SG were involved in data gathering and data abstraction. SH was involved in data abstraction and formatting. JRD and MH were involved in supervision of the project and revision of the manuscript. GK was responsible for overall coordination of the project, data gathering, statistical analysis, and revision of the manuscript and figures.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.