A Simple and Quantitative Method to Predict Symptomatic Vasospasm After Subarachnoid Hemorrhage Based on Computed Tomography: Beyond the Fisher Scale

Neurosurgery 71:869–876, 2012

Although the Fisher scale is commonly used to grade vasospasm risk in aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH) patients, it fails to account for increasing subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) thickness.

OBJECTIVE: We developed a simple quantitative scale based on maximal SAH thickness and compared its reproducibility and ability to predict symptomatic vasospasm against the Fisher scale.

METHODS: The incidence of radiographic and symptomatic vasospasm among 250 aSAH patients treated at our institution was investigated. Admission head computed tomography scans were graded according to the Fisher scale and the proposed scale, which assigns a score from 1 to 5 based on a single measurement of maximum SAH thickness. We calculated vasospasm risk per grade for the Fisher scale and the proposed scale, and compared inter- and intraobserver variability for both scales.

RESULTS: Forty-five patients (20.6%) developed symptomatic vasospasm. On the proposed scale, grade 5 patients were at highest risk, with an odds ratio for symptomatic vasospasm of 11 (95% confidence interval [CI] 2.27-53.37). Odds ratios for proposed grades 4 and 3 were 4.63 (95% CI 1.10-19.59) and 3.04 (95% CI 0.85-10.90), respectively. The odds ratio for Fisher grade 3 was 3.3 (0.96-11.30). Mean inter- and intraobserver agreement was greater for the proposed scale in comparison with the Fisher scale (k0.65 and k0.81 vs k0.51 and k0.35, respectively).

CONCLUSION: The new scale accounted for increasing SAH thickness and was superior to the Fisher scale in inter- and intraobserver agreement and in predicting symptomatic vasospasm, particularly among the highest-risk patients.