Introduction: The Ottawa SAH Rule was developed to identify patients at high-risk for subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) who require investigations and the 6-Hour CT Rule found that computed tomography (CT) was 100% sensitive for SAH 6 hours of headache onset. Together, they form the Ottawa SAH Strategy. Our objectives were to assess: 1) Safety of the Ottawa SAH Strategy and its 2) Impact on: a) CTs, b) LPs, c) ED length of stay, and d) CT angiography (CTA). Methods: We conducted a multicentre prospective before/after study at 6 tertiary-care EDs January 2010 to December 2016 (implementation July 2013). Consecutive alert, neurologically intact adults with a headache peaking within one hour were included. SAH was defined by subarachnoid blood on head CT (radiologists final report); xanthochromia in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF); >1x106/L red blood cells in the final tube of CSF with an aneurysm on CTA. Results: We enrolled 3,669 patients, 1,743 before and 1,926 after implementation, including 185 with SAH. The investigation rate before implementation was 89.0% (range 82.9 to 95.6%) versus 88.4% (range 85.2 to 92.3%) after implementation. The proportion who had CT remained stable (88.0% versus 87.4%; p=0.60), while the proportion who had LP decreased from 38.9% to 25.9% (p<0.001), and the proportion investigated with CTA increased from 18.8% to 21.6% (p=0.036). The additional testing rate (i.e. LP or CTA) diminishedfrom 50.1% to 40.8% (p<0.001). The proportion admitted declined from 9.8% to 7.3% (p=0.008), while the mean length of ED stay was stable (6.2 +/− 4.0 to 6.4 +/− 4.1 hours; p=0.45). For the 1,201 patients with CT 6 hours, there was an absolute decrease in additional testing (i.e. LP or CTA) of 15.0% (46.6% versus 31.6%; p<0.001). The sensitivity of the Ottawa SAH Rule was 100% (95%CI: 98-100%), and the 6-Hour CT Rule was 95.3% (95%CI: 88.9-98.3) for SAH. Five patients with early CT had SAH with CT reported as normal: 2 unruptured aneuryms on CTA and presumed traumatic LP (determined by treating neurosurgeon); 1 missed by the radiologist on the initial interpretation; 1 dural vein fistula (i.e. non-aneuyrsmal); and 1 profoundly anemic (Hgb 63g/L). Conclusion: The Ottawa SAH Strategy is highly sensitive and can be used routinely when SAH is being considered in alert and neurologically intact headache patients. Its implementation was associated with a decrease in LPs and admissions to hospital.
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.