Pathophysiology of long-standing overt ventriculomegaly in adults

J Neurosurg. 2000 Jun;92(6):933-40. doi: 10.3171/jns.2000.92.6.0933.


Object: Long-standing overt ventriculomegaly in adults (LOVA) is a unique form of hydrocephalus that develops during childhood and manifests symptoms during adulthood. The aim of the present study was to analyze the specific pathophysiological characteristics of LOVA.

Methods: The specific diagnostic criteria for LOVA include severe ventriculomegaly in adults that is associated with macrocephalus measuring more than two standard deviations in head circumference and/or neuroradiological evidence of a significantly expanded or destroyed sella turcica. Twenty patients who fulfilled these criteria, 14 males and six females, were retrospectively studied. These patients' ages at diagnosis ranged from 15 to 61 years (mean 39.4 years). All had symptoms and/or signs indicating that hydrocephalus first occurred at birth or during infancy in the absence of any known underlying disease. The authors performed a pathophysiological study that included specific variations of magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, such as fluid-attenuated inversion recovery and cardiac-gated cine-mode imaging; intracranial pressure (ICP) monitoring; three-dimensional computerized tomography (CT) scanning; and other techniques. Hydrocephalus was caused by aqueductal stenosis in all patients. Severe ventriculomegaly involving the lateral and third ventricles was associated with a marked expansion or destruction of the sella turcica in 17 cases. Cardiac-gated cine-MR imaging did not reveal any significant movements of cerebrospinal fluid in the aqueduct. Three-dimensional CT ventriculography confirmed that the expanded third ventricle protruded into the sella and, sometimes, extended a diverticulum. Fourteen patients revealed symptoms and signs that indicated increased ICP with prominent pressure waves. Dementia or mental retardation was seen in 11 patients, gait disturbance in 12, and urinary incontinence in eight; all three of these symptoms were observed in seven patients. Thirteen patients experienced visual disturbance. Nine patients underwent ventriculoperitoneal shunt implantation as the initial treatment, leading to postoperative subdural hematoma in all seven cases in which a differential pressure valve was used. Nine patients, three of whom were initially treated by shunt placement, underwent a neuroendoscopic procedure, mainly for third ventriculostomy. Postoperatively, ICP returned to normal, and marked to-and-fro pulsatile movements at the site of ventriculostomy were recognized on cine-MR imaging in patients treated endoscopically. However, the ventriculomegaly was little improved. Consequently, all patients eventually demonstrated improvement in response to either a shunt equipped with a pressure-programmable valve or an endoscopic procedure; however, depression appeared in six patients, who required psychiatric consultation or medication.

Conclusions: Such remarkably decreased intracranial compliance but relatively high ICP dynamics are the pathophysiological characteristics of LOVA. The therapeutic regimen should be determined based on the individual's specific pathophysiological makeup.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cerebral Ventricles / pathology*
  • Cerebral Ventriculography*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hydrocephalus / diagnosis*
  • Hydrocephalus / physiopathology*
  • Hydrocephalus / surgery
  • Intracranial Pressure
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Cine
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt