Fatal reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome: A systematic review of case series and case reports




OBJECTIVE: To describe patient characteristics, radiological findings and the clinical course of adults with fatal reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS). METHODS: A systematic literature search from January 1, 2000, until December 31, 2018, was performed using PubMed, EMBASE, Scopus, Cochrane reviews, LILACS and Scielo. Studies reporting RCVS in adult patients with fatal outcomes were included. RESULTS: 430 studies were initially identified, 179 full-text articles were reviewed, and 9 publications describing 12 subjects were included. The vast majority of the reports were from the U.S. Most of the female cases occurred during postpartum. All patients had a headache on initial presentation, although only 42% had thunderclap headache. A CT scan was performed on 67% of the patients. Imaging results were diverse, with a tendency toward cerebral hemorrhage followed by mixed cases. The main course of treatment included steroids (58% of the patients), with only 42% receiving nimodipine. The time to death ranged from 4 to 14 days, with a median of 9.2 days (SD ± 3.2). CONCLUSION: We found that the majority of fatal cases reported in the literature are most likely related to postpartum angiopathy. We established a tendency in the onset of brain hemorrhage and the combination of infarction and brain hemorrhage. We described various markers for poor prognosis, including focal signs, the presence of hemorrhage and infarct in the first diagnostic image obtained and the need for invasive interventions. The majority of fatal cases in our report occurred in women, with over half of those cases during the puerperium period.

Palabras clave


Vasospasm, Subarachnoid hemorrhage, Postpartum angiopathy, Reversible vasoconstriction syndrome, Outcome mortality


Vasoespasmo intracraneal
Hemorragias intracraneales