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Keywords:

  • thunderclap;
  • headache;
  • subarachnoid hemorrhage;
  • amyloid

Background

Convexal subarachnoid hemorrhage has been associated with different diseases, reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome and cerebral amyloid angiopathy being the 2 main causes.

Objective

To investigate whether headache at onset is determinant in identifying the underlying etiology for convexal subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Methods

After searching in the database of our hospital, 24 patients were found with convexal subarachnoid hemorrhage in the last 10 years. The mean age of the sample was 69.5 years. We recorded data referring to demographics, symptoms and neuroimaging.

Results

Cerebral amyloid angiopathy patients accounted for 46% of the sample, 13% were diagnosed with reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome, 16% with several other etiologies, and in 25%, the cause remained unknown. Mild headache was present only in 1 (9%) of the 11 cerebral amyloid angiopathy patients, while severe headache was the dominant feature in 86% of cases of the remaining etiologies.

Conclusion

Headache is a key symptom allowing a presumptive etiological diagnosis of convexal subarachnoid hemorrhage. While the absence of headache suggests cerebral amyloid angiopathy as the more probable cause, severe headache obliges us to rule out other etiologies, such as reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome.