For cardiac arrest (CA) victims, brain computed tomography (CT) may serve as a prognosticator. Loss of gray-white matter discrimination (GWMD) and sulcal edema/effacement are reliable CT signs of hypoxia, and a time window may exist for development of these signs. Most data are derived from CA victims of cardiac etiology, however, and CT signs have rarely been evaluated in victims of CA secondary to subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). A retrospective study was conducted to clarify the incidence, temporal profile, and prognostic significance of early CT signs in resuscitated SAH-CA patients. During a 6-year period, 35 SAH-CA patients were identified. CT signs were observed in 94 %: loss of GWMD was observed in 94 %, whereas sulcal edema/effacement was observed in 77 %. In 29 patients, the interval between CA and the return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) was estimated. CT signs developed almost invariably when the CA-ROSC interval exceeded 10 min. Loss of GWMD always preceded sulcal edema/effacement. None of the 35 patients achieved long-term survival, regardless of the presence of the CT signs. CT signs may develop earlier in patients with SAH-CA than CA of cardiac origin. Because of a poor prognosis, early CT signs are not useful prognosticators in that population.
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