Posterior Reversible Encephalopathy Syndrome as a Complication of Induced Hypertension in Subarachnoid Hemorrhage: A Case-Control Study

Neurosurgery, Volume 85, Issue 2, August 2019, Pages 223–230

Induced hypertension (IH) remains the mainstay of medicalmanagement for delayed cerebral ischemia (DCI) after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). However, raising blood pressure above normal levels may be associated with systemic and neurological complications, of which posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (PRES) has been increasingly recognized.

OBJECTIVE: To ascertain the frequency and predisposing factors for PRES during IH therapy.

METHODS: We identified 68 patients treated with IH from 345 SAH patients over a 3- yr period. PRES was diagnosed based on clinical suspicion, confirmed by imaging. We extracted additional data on IH, including baseline and highest target mean arterial pressure (MAP), comparing PRES to IH-treated controls.

RESULTS: Five patients were diagnosed with PRES at median 6.6 d (range 1-8 d) from vasopressor initiation. All presented with lethargy, 3 had new focal deficits, and 1 had a seizure. Although baseline MAP (prior to DCI) did not differ between cases and controls, bothMAP immediately prior to IH (112 vs 90) and highestMAP targetedwere greater (140 vs 120mmHg, both P<.01).Magnitude ofMAP elevation was greater (54 vs 34 above baseline, P = .004) while degree of IH was not (37 vs 38 above pre-IH MAP). All 4 surviving PRES patients had complete resolution with IH discontinuation.

CONCLUSION: PRES was diagnosed in 7% of SAH patients undergoing IH therapy, most oftenwhenMAP was raisedwell above baseline to levels that exceed traditional autoregulatory thresholds. High suspicion for this reversible disorder appears warranted in the face of unexplained neurological deterioration during aggressive IH.