Background In patients with aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage, elevation of the head of the bed during vasospasm has been limited in an attempt to minimize vasospasm or its sequelae or both. Consequently, some patients have remained on bed rest for weeks.

Objectives To determine how elevations of the head of the bed of 20° and 45° affect cerebrovascular dynamics in adult patients with mild or moderate vasospasm after aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage and to describe the response of mild or moderate vasospasm to head-of-bed elevations of 20° and 45° with respect to variables such as grade of subarachnoid hemorrhage and degree of vasospasm.

Methods A within-patient repeated-measures design was used. The head of the bed was positioned in the sequence of 0°-20°-45°-0° in 20 patients with mild or moderate vasospasm between days 3 and 14 after aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage. Continuous transcranial Doppler recordings were obtained for 2 to 5 minutes after allowing approximately 2 minutes for stabilization in each position.

ResultsNo patterns or trends indicated that having the head of the bed elevated increases vasospasm. As a group, there were no significant differences within patients at the different positions of the head of the bed. Utilizing repeated-measures analysis of variance, P values ranged from .34 to .97, well beyond .05. No neurological deterioration occurred.

Conclusions In general, elevation of the head of the bed did not cause harmful changes in cerebral blood flow related to vasospasm.

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