Reducing the risk of rebleeding before early aneurysm surgery: A possible role for antifibrinolytic therapy

Thomas J. Leipzig, Kathleen Redelman, Terry G. Horner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

48 Scopus citations


Previous studies on the initial nonoperative management of aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) demonstrated that antifibrinolytic therapy reduced the risk of rebleeding by approximately 50%; however, prolonged antifibrinolytic treatment was associated with an increase in the incidence of hydrocephalus and delayed ischemic deficit. When early surgical intervention became routine for ruptured aneurysms, the use of antifibrinolytic therapy diminished. However, early surgery is generally performed in the first several days after SAH and the risk of rebleeding remains until the aneurysm is obliterated. Based on a review of the literature, the authors formed two hypotheses: 1) the high-dose intravenous administration of epsilon-aminocaproic acid (EACA), an antifibrinolytic agent, might reduce the risk of recurrent hemorrhage in the interval between SAH and early surgical intervention, and 2) a short course of EACA might not produce the increase in complications previously associated with its prolonged administration. The use of preoperative high-dose EACA therapy was evaluated in 307 patients to determine its safety and efficacy in reducing the incidence of rebleeding before early aneurysm surgery. All patients were admitted within 3 days of their SAH and were classified Hunt and Hess Grades I to III. Only four patients (1.3%) suffered a recurrent hemorrhage. This compares favorably to the rebleeding rate of 5.7% reported for the early surgery group in the International Cooperative Study on the Timing of Aneurysm Surgery. The incidence of hydrocephalus or symptomatic vasospasm was not unduly elevated in patients receiving preoperative EACA. Thirty-five patients (11.4%) needed temporary cerebrospinal fluid drainage during their hospitalization and, overall, 8.8% required a ventriculoperitoneal shunt. The mean age of the patients who required a shunt was nearly 10 years older than the general study population. Seventy-one patients (23%) developed symptomatic vasospasm and 8.1% suffered a stroke. This study indicates that a brief course of high-dose EACA is safe and may be beneficial in diminishing the risk of rebleeding in good-grade patients prior to early surgical intervention. Further investigation is planned based on these promising results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)220-225
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1997


  • antifibrinolytic therapy
  • early aneurysm surgery
  • rebleeding
  • subarachnoid hemorrhage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)

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