Definition of initial grading, specific events, and overall outcome in patients with aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage. A survey.
Scientific communication in medicine can be effective only if reports are based on unequivocal criteria for clinical conditions or specific diagnoses.
We reviewed all articles about subarachnoid hemorrhage published in nine neurosurgical or neurological journals from 1985 through 1992 and assessed the presence and the precision of definitions used for reporting the initial grade, the specific complications of rebleeding, delayed cerebral ischemia, and hydrocephalus, and the overall outcome. We identified 184 articles reporting direct observations in at least 10 patients on one or more of these conditions.
Of 161 articles reporting the initial condition, only 19% used an unequivocal grading system (World Federation of Neurological Surgeons Scale or Glasgow Coma Scale); this proportion did not increase after 1988, when the World Federation of Neurological Surgeons Scale was introduced. The specific outcome events of rebleeding, ischemia, and hydrocephalus (283 instances) were sufficiently defined in only 31% of instances, incompletely in 22%, and not at all in 47%. The proportions were similar when the results were analyzed according to the type of complication, the year of publication, or per study. The four exclusively neurosurgical journals featured suitable definitions for any of the three outcome events in 20% of 209 instances, whereas the five mainly neurological journals published fewer articles about subarachnoid hemorrhage (74 instances of outcome events) but more often with precise criteria (65%). Overall outcome was adequately reported in 63% of all articles, with an increase over the years (54% in 1985 through 1988, 71% in 1989 through 1992).
Reports about subarachnoid hemorrhage require closer scrutiny before publication to ascertain whether the conclusions about specific outcome events are based on unequivocal criteria.
- Copyright © 1994 by American Heart Association