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J Neurosurg. 2016 Jun;124(6):1850-7. doi: 10.3171/2015.6.JNS15496. Epub 2015 Dec 4.

Phase-contrast magnetic resonance imaging reveals net retrograde aqueductal flow in idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus.

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Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine.
The Intervention Centre, and.
Department of Neurosurgery, Oslo University Hospital-Rikshospitalet, and.
Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.


OBJECT The objective of this study was to assess the net aqueductal stroke volume (ASV) and CSF aqueductal flow rate derived from phase-contrast MRI (PC-MRI) in patients with probable idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus (iNPH) before and after ventriculoperitoneal shunt surgery, and to compare observations with intracranial pressure (ICP) scores. METHODS PC-MRI at the level of the sylvian aqueduct was undertaken in patients undergoing assessment for probable iNPH. Aqueductal flow in the craniocaudal direction was defined as positive, or antegrade flow, and net ASV was calculated by subtracting retrograde from antegrade aqueductal flow. Aqueductal flow rate per minute was calculated by multiplying net ASV by heart rate. During the same hospital admission, clinical examination was performed using NPH score and overnight continuous ICP monitoring. Twelve patients were followed prospectively 12 months after shunt placement with clinical assessment and a second PC-MRI. The study also included 2 healthy controls. RESULTS Among 21 patients examined for iNPH, 17 (81%) received a shunt (shunt group), and 4 were treated conservatively (conservative group). Among the patients with shunts, a clinical improvement was observed in 16 (94%) of the 17. Net ASV was negative in 16 (76%) of 21 patients before shunt placement and in 5 (42%) of 12 patients after shunt placement, and increased from a median of -5 μl (range -175 to 27 μl) to a median of 1 μl (range -61 to 30 μl; p = 0.04). Among the 12 patients with PC-MRI after shunt placement, 11 were shunt responders, and in 9 of these 11 either a reduced magnitude of retrograde aqueductal flow, or a complete reversal from retrograde to antegrade flow, occurred. Net ASV was significantly lower in the shunt group than in the conservative group (p = 0.01). The aqueductal flow rate increased from -0.56 ml/min (range -12.78 to 0.58 ml/min) to 0.06 ml/min (range -4.51 to 1.93 ml/min; p = 0.04) after shunt placement. CONCLUSIONS In this cohort of patients with iNPH, retrograde net aqueductal flow was observed in 16 (76%) of 21 patients. It was reversed toward the antegrade direction after shunt placement either by magnitude or completely in 9 (75%) of 12 patients examined using PC-MRI both before and after shunt placement (p = 0.04); 11 of the 12 were shunt responders. The study results question previously established concepts with respect to both CSF circulation pathways and CSF formation rate.


AQP4 = aquaporin 4; ASV = aqueductal stroke volume; ICP = intracranial pressure; MWA = mean ICP wave amplitudes; NPH = normal pressure hydrocephalus; PC-MRI = phase-contrast MRI; ROI = region of interest; aqueductal flow; iNPH = idiopathic NPH; idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus; phase-contrast MRI; shunt surgery

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