The Longitudinal Course of Pain and Analgesic Therapy Following Aneurysmal Subarachnoid Hemorrhage: A Cohort Study

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Abstract

Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine the duration, intensity, location, and usual treatment of pain throughout hospitalization following subarachnoid hemorrhage. Background: Headache following subarachnoid hemorrhage can be sudden and severe. Little is known about the longitudinal course of headache or its analgesic therapy following the initial diagnosis of subarachnoid hemorrhage. Methods: A prospectively maintained database of 564 patients diagnosed with cerebral aneurysms collected from 10/2009 to 2/2013 was searched for conscious patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage. Available electronic records were queried for pain scores (0-10/10), location, and analgesic consumption. Results: Forty-six adults with subarachnoid hemorrhage met eligibility criteria for inclusion. Mean [CI 95] daily pain was 3.8 [3.2, 4.4] and maximal daily pain was 5.8 [5.1, 6.6]. Eighty-nine percent of patients reported severe pain of 7-10/10, and 63% of patients reported 10/10 pain at some point during hospitalization. While mean [CI 95] pain declined over the course of hospital stay at a rate of 0.06 [0.04, 0.07] units/day (P <.001), mean [CI 95] maximal daily pain changed at a rate of −0.03 [−0.06, 0.01] units/day, which is not significantly different than zero (P =.15). Pain was located primarily in the head in 76% of subjects but pain in the back, neck, limbs, and eyes was also reported. All patients received oral acetaminophen with increasing daily doses. All but three patients, received opioids, most commonly intravenous fentanyl and oral oxycodone. The mean [95 CI] intravenous morphine equivalent dose of opioids consumed was 15.7 [10.3, 21.1] mg/day and changed at a rate of −0.11 [−0.37, 0.15] mg/day which is not significantly different than zero (P =.40). Conclusion: Despite steady consumption of analgesics, the pain reported by conscious patients while recovering from subarachnoid hemorrhage in the hospital is often severe and persists throughout hospitalization.

Keywords

  • acute pain
  • analgesic therapy
  • headache
  • subarachnoid hemorrhage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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