According to current guidelines, aneurysmal subarachnoid haemorrhage (aSAH) patients are mostly managed in intensive care units (ICU) regardless of baseline severity. We assessed the prognostic and economic implications of initial admission of low-grade aSAH patients into a Stroke Unit (SU) compared to initial ICU admission.
We reviewed prospectively registered data from consecutive aSAH patients with a WFNS grade lower than 3 admitted at a Comprehensive Stroke Center between April-2013 and September-2018. Clinical and radiological baseline traits, in-hospital complications, length of hospital stay (LOS) and poor outcome at 90 days (modified Rankin Scale >2) were compared between the ICU and SU groups in the whole population and in a propensity score matched cohort.
From 131 patients, 74 (56%) were initially admitted in the ICU and 57 (44%) in the SU. In-hospital complication rates were similar in the ICU and SU groups and included rebleeding (10% vs 7%, p=0.757), angiographic vasospasm (61% vs 60%, p=0.893), delayed cerebral ischemia (12% vs 12%, p=0.984), pneumonia (6% vs 4%, p=0.697) and death (10% vs 5%, p=0.512). LOS did not differ across both groups [median (IQR) 22 (16-30) vs 19 (14-26) days, p=0.160]. In adjusted multivariate models, the location of initial admission was not associated with long-term poor outcome either in the whole population (OR=1.16, 95%CI=0.32-4.19, p=0.825) or in the matched cohort (OR=0.98, 95%CI=0.24-4.06, p=0.974).
A dedicated SU cared by a multidisciplinary team might be an optimal alternative to ICU to initially admit patients with low-risk aSAH.

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