Treatment of Subarachnoid Hemorrhage-associated Delayed Cerebral Ischemia with Milrinone: A Review and Proposal

Thomas D. Bernier, Michael J. Schontz, Saef Izzy, David Y. Chung, Sarah E. Nelson, Thabele M. Leslie-Mazwi, Galen V. Henderson, Hormuzdiyar Dasenbrock, Nirav Patel, Mohammad A. Aziz-Sultan, Steven Feske, Rose Du, Yasser B. Abulhasan, Mark R. Angle

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Delayed cerebral ischemia (DCI) following aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage continues to be associated with high levels of morbidity and mortality. This complication had long been thought to occur secondary to severe cerebral vasospasm, but expert opinion now favors a multifactorial etiology, opening the possibility of new therapies. To date, no definitive treatment option for DCI has been recommended as standard of care, highlighting a need for further research into potential therapies. Milrinone has been identified as a promising therapeutic agent for DCI, possessing a mechanism of action for the reversal of cerebral vasospasm as well as potentially anti-inflammatory effects to treat the underlying etiology of DCI. Intra-arterial and intravenous administration of milrinone has been evaluated for the treatment of DCI in single-center case series and cohorts and appears safe and associated with improved clinical outcomes. Recent results have also brought attention to the potential outcome benefits of early, more aggressive dosing and titration of milrinone. Limitations exist within the available data, however, and questions remain about the generalizability of results across a broader spectrum of patients suffering from DCI. The development of a standardized protocol for milrinone use in DCI, specifically addressing areas requiring further clarification, is needed. Data generated from a standardized protocol may provide the impetus for a multicenter, randomized control trial. We review the current literature on milrinone for the treatment of DCI and propose a preliminary standardized protocol for further evaluation of both safety and efficacy of milrinone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-202
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurosurgical Anesthesiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • delayed cerebral ischemia
  • milrinone
  • outcome


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