A Web-based Decision Tool to Estimate Subarachnoid Hemorrhage Risk in Emergency Department Patients

Haley Manella, Shyam Sivasankar, Jeffrey J Perry, Sam Pfeil, Josh Senyak, Ross Shachter, Prasanthi Govindarajan
Curēus 2018 January 21, 10 (1): e2096
Subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) from a leaking aneurysm is a neurological emergency. SAH patients often present with headache-a common chief complaint among emergency department patients. If unrecognized, 70% of the patients with re-bleeds die and one third are left with neurological deficits. Therefore, it is critical to distinguish the signs and symptoms of SAH from benign causes of headache, perform the appropriate diagnostic tests and treat in a timely manner in order to reduce the disability and mortality associated with this condition. In patients with suspected SAH, traditional diagnostic strategies in the emergency department employ non-contrast computed tomography (CT) of the brain to detect blood in the subarachnoid space followed by lumbar puncture if there is a high clinical probability of aneurysmal bleed without any evidence of blood on CT scan. While the older generation CT scanners were less sensitive to blood detection in the subarachnoid space, recent advances in CT imaging have resulted in sensitivity approaching 100% for detection of blood in the subarachnoid space specifically within six hours of symptom onset. Therefore, the benefit of lumbar puncture is controversial when performed within the first six hours of symptom onset. Despite this, lumbar puncture is still commonly performed in the emergency department, exposing patients to unnecessary procedural risks. The objective of this research study is to develop a web-based risk calculator that estimates the risk of SAH based on time to emergency department presentation after symptom onset, physical findings and imaging characteristics with the goal of reducing unnecessary lumbar punctures in the emergency department. In this technical report, we describe the prototype calculator, the mathematical basis of the model and provide a link to the web-based prototype. In the future, we will refine the prototype, make it user-friendly to physicians, staff and patients and study its benefits in the emergency department.

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