June 18, 2007 / 4:38 PM / 10 years ago

Recovery slow after surgery for severe brain bleed

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - When people suffer a serious type of bleeding in the brain called a subarachnoid hemorrhage, caused by a ruptured blood vessel, surgery can sometimes stop further damage occurring. Even so, cognitive impairment is common and recovery can take months, researcher report.

Furthermore, Dr. Satwant K. Samra at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor and associates found, patients improve in their mental capacities over a period of about 9 months, but after that further improvement is minimal.

Their study included 185 patients who had undergone surgery for a subarachnoid hemorrhage and a comparison group of 45 healthy matched “control” subjects. Outcomes were based on standard tests of mental capabilities such as memory, language and visuospatial abilities conducted at 3, 9 and 15 months after surgery.

The investigators report in the medical journal Stroke that the percentage of patients with mental impairment dropped from almost 36 percent at 3 months to less than 26 percent at 9 months; over the next 6 months, however, that dropped only slightly, to 23 percent.

Composite test scores averaged 42.5 among the patients at 3 months, versus 50.7 among controls. Patients’ scores rose to 45.8 at 9 months and 46.7 at 15 months, while the corresponding scores among the control subjects also improved, to 52.5 and 54.2.

Samra’s team concludes: “Improvement reaches a plateau between 9 and 15 months post-surgery, and this has important implications in discussion with patients, families and healthcare providers while planning rehabilitation.”

SOURCE: Stroke, June 2007.

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