BACKGROUND Inhalational anesthetics were associated with reduced incidence of angiographic vasospasm and delayed cerebral ischemia (DCI) in patients with aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). Whether intravenous anesthetics provide similar level of protection is not known.
METHODS Anesthetic data were collected retrospectively for patients with SAH who received general anesthesia for aneurysm repair between January 1, 2014 and May 31, 2018, at 2 academic centers in the United States (one employing primarily inhalational and the other primarily intravenous anesthesia with propofol). We compared the outcomes of angiographic vasospasm, DCI, and neurological outcome (measured by disposition at hospital discharge), between the 2 sites, adjusting for potential confounders.
RESULTS We compared 179 patients with SAH receiving inhalational anesthetics at one institution to 206 patients with SAH receiving intravenous anesthetics at the second institution. The rates of angiographic vasospasm between inhalational versus intravenous anesthetic groups were 32% versus 52% (odds ratio, 0.49 [CI, 0.32-0.75], P =0.001) and DCI were 21% versus 40% (odds ratio, 0.47 [CI, 0.29-0.74], P =0.001), adjusting for imbalances between sites/groups, Hunt-Hess and Fisher grades, type of aneurysm treatment, and American Society of Anesthesiology status. No impact of anesthetics on neurological outcome at time of discharge was noted with rates of good discharge outcome between inhalational versus intravenous anesthetic groups at (78% versus 72%, P =0.23).
CONCLUSIONS Our data suggest that those who received inhalational versus intravenous anesthetic for ruptured aneurysm repair had significant protection against SAH-induced angiographic vasospasm and DCI. Although we cannot fully disentangle site-specific versus anesthetic effects in this comparative study, these results, when coupled with preclinical data demonstrating a similar protective effect of inhalational anesthetics on vasospasm and DCI, suggest that inhalational anesthetics may be preferable for patients with SAH undergoing aneurysm repair. Additional investigations examining the effect of inhalational anesthetics on other SAH outcomes such as early brain injury and long-term neurological outcomes are warranted.