Cause is the main predictor of outcome in patients with pontine hemorrhage

Alejandro A. Rabinstein, Stephen H. Tisch, Robyn L. McClelland, Eelco F.M. Wijdicks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Background: Pontine hemorrhages frequently lead to death or severe disability. Predictors of early mortality have been previously described but little is known about the factors influencing long-term disability. Objective: Determine clinical predictors of long-term outcome in a large hospital series of patients with acute pontine hemorrhage. Methods: Review of all patients with acute pontine hemorrhage admitted to a single tertiary center from 1990 to 2002 who underwent a diagnostic workup including brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Long-term outcome was rated using the modified Rankin Scale (mRS) score at the time of the last follow-up. Odds ratios (ORs) for predictive factors were calculated using univariate and multivariable logistic regression analysis. Level of significance was established at p < 0.01. Results: We identified 44 consecutive patients with acute pontine hemorrhage. Twenty-four patients had primary hemorrhages (no cause other than hypertension). Arteriovenous or cavernous malformations were documented by brain MRI in 20 patients. Patients with primary hemorrhages had worse Glasgow Coma Scale sum scores (p = 0.01) and more unfavorable CT patterns (p = 0.005) at presentation. Eighteen percent of the patients died in the hospital. Mean follow-up among survivors was 20 months (range 3-144 months). Twenty-two percent of the patients remained severely disabled (mRS greater than 2) at 3 months and at the time of the last follow-up. All deaths occurred in patients with primary pontine hemorrhage. Poor outcome (death or severe disability) was more frequent in patients with primary hemorrhages when compared with patients harboring cavernous malformations (62 versus 5%; p < 0.01). Primary hemorrhage was the only independent predictor of poor outcome in multivariable regression analysis (OR 12; p = 0.029). Conclusions: Cause is a main predictor of clinical and radiological severity at presentation and outcome in patients with pontine hemorrhage. The first episode of hemorrhage in patients with brainstem cavernous malformations is usually benign. Pontine hemorrhage associated with prior hypertension is much more devastating.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)66-71
Number of pages6
JournalCerebrovascular Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2004


  • Cavernous malformation
  • Pontine hemorrhage
  • Primary hemorrhage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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