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Childs Nerv Syst. 2007 May;23(5):487-9. Epub 2007 Mar 17.

Paradigm shift in hydrocephalus research in legacy of Dandy's pioneering work: rationale for third ventriculostomy in communicating hydrocephalus.

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  • 1Department of Neuroradiology, MR Research Center, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.



This study aims to question the generally accepted cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) bulk flow theory suggesting that the CSF is exclusively absorbed by the arachnoid villi and that the cause of hydrocephalus is a CSF absorption deficit. In addition, this study aims to briefly describe the new hydrodynamic concept of hydrocephalus and the rationale for endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) in communicating hydrocephalus.


The bulk flow theory has proven incapable of explaining the pivotal mechanisms behind communicating hydrocephalus. Thus, the theory is unable to explain why the ventricles enlarge, why the CSF pressure remains normal and why some patients improve after ETV.


Communicating hydrocephalus is caused by decreased intracranial compliance increasing the systolic pressure transmission into the brain parenchyma. The increased systolic pressure in the brain distends the brain towards the skull and simultaneously compresses the periventricular region of the brain against the ventricles. The final result is the predominant enlargement of the ventricles and narrowing of the subarachnoid space. The ETV reduces the increased systolic pressure in the brain simply by venting ventricular CSF through the stoma. The patent aqueduct in communicating hydrocephalus is too narrow to vent the CSF sufficiently.

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