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Handb Clin Neurol. 2016;135:591-601. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-53485-9.00028-3.

Cerebrospinal fluid flow in adults.

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Department of Radiology, University of California San Diego Health System, San Diego, CA, USA. Electronic address:
Section of Neuroradiology, Department of Radiology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA.
Department of Mathematics, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.


This chapter uses magnetic resonance imaging phase-contrast cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flow measurements to predict which clinical normal-pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) patients will respond to shunting as well as which patients with Chiari I are likely to develop symptoms of syringomyelia. Symptomatic NPH patients with CSF flow (measured as the aqueductal CSF stroke volume) which is shown to be hyperdynamic (defined as twice normal) are quite likely to respond to ventriculoperitoneal shunting. The hyperdynamic CSF flow results from normal systolic brain expansion compressing the enlarged ventricles. When atrophy occurs, there is less brain expansion, decreased aqueductal CSF flow, and less likelihood of responding to shunting. It appears that NPH is a "two-hit" disease, starting as benign external hydrocephalus in infancy, followed by deep white-matter ischemia in late adulthood, which causes increased resistance to CSF outflow through the extracellular space of the brain. Using computational flow dynamics (CFD), CSF flow can be modeled at the foramen magnum and in the upper cervical spine. As in the case of NPH, hyperdynamic CSF flow appears to cause the signs and symptoms in Chiari I and can provide an additional indication for surgical decompression. CFD can also predict CSF pressures over the cardiac cycle. It has been hypothesized that elevated pressure pulses may be a significant etiologic factor in some cases of syringomyelia.


Chiari I; NPH: etiology; NPH: prediction of shunt-responsiveness; computational flow dynamics; phase-contrast CSF flow; syringomyelia

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