Using single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), cerebral blood flow was studied in eight patients with gradual deterioration in the level of consciousness after subarachnoid haemorrhage. Four had cerebral ischaemia and four had acute hydrocephalus. In patients with cerebral ischaemia, single photon emission computed tomography scanning showed multiple regions with decreased uptake of technetium-99M labelled d,l-hexamethyl-propylene amine oxime (99mTcHM-PAO) mainly in watershed areas. In patients with acute hydrocephalus, decreased uptake was seen mainly in the basal parts of the brain: around the third ventricle, around the temporal horns of the lateral ventricles, and in the basal part of the frontal lobe. After serial lumbar puncture, there was improvement of the uptake of 99mTc HM-PAO in these basal areas in three (convincingly in two and slightly in the other) of the four patients accompanied by clinical improvement in these three patients. These results suggest that patients with acute hydrocephalus and impaired consciousness after SAH, in contrast to patients with cerebral ischaemia, have decreased cerebral blood flow predominantly in the basal parts of the brain.
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