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Neurosurgery. 2002 Dec;51(6):1392-400; discussion 1400-2.

Adjustable valves in normal-pressure hydrocephalus: a retrospective study of 218 patients.

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Division of Neurosurgery, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Lund University Hospital, Lund, Sweden.



We sought to assess the value of adjusting shunt valve opening pressure, complications, and outcomes with the use of an adjustable shunt valve in the treatment of patients with normal-pressure hydrocephalus (NPH).


In a single-center retrospective study, 231 adjustable valves (range, 30-200 mm H(2)O) were the first shunt implantations in 147 patients with idiopathic NPH (INPH) and 71 patients with secondary NPH (SNPH). The effect of adjustment on gait disturbance, cognitive impairment, urinary incontinence and other symptoms were evaluated, and an improvement index was created.


In the INPH group, 138 adjustments were performed in 49.0% of the patients (average, 0.94 adjustments/patient). For the SNPH group, 49 adjustments were performed in 32.4% of the patients (average, 0.69 adjustments/patient). The reasons for adjustment were overdrainage in 48 patients (25.7%), underdrainage in 98 patients (52.4%), subdural hematoma in 37 patients (19.8%), and other reasons in 2 patients (2.1%). Clinical status improved after 56 (49.1%) of all 114 adjustments, whereas 23 (42.6%) of 54 minor (< or =20 mm H2O) and 33 (66.0%) of 50 larger adjustments improved the patient's clinical status. The correlation of the improvement index with the size of the individual adjustments was not significant. Complications occurred in 43 (19.7%) of 218 patients, valve malfunction occurred in 3 patients (1.3%), infection occurred in 14 patients (6.4%), and nontraumatic subdural effusion occurred in 15 patients (6.9%; 8 were treated by adjustment alone). The 5-year shunt survival rate was 80.2%. Outcomes were excellent or good in 71 (78.9%) of 90 patients with INPH and in 30 (69.8%) of 43 patients with SNPH.


Noninvasive, particularly consecutive, minor or single larger adjustments to the valve opening pressure can further improve outcome in patients with NPH who undergo shunting.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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