Object: Few studies have been performed to investigate the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) hydrodynamic profile in patients with idiopathic adult hydrocephalus syndrome (IAHS) before and after shunt implantation. The authors compared the in vivo CSF hydrodynamic properties, including the degree of gravity-induced CSF flow, of a shunt with an antisiphon device with a standard shunt.
Methods: Twelve patients with IAHS underwent insertion of shunts with Delta valves. Clinical testing, magnetic resonance imaging, and CSF hydrodynamic investigations were conducted with intracranial pressure (ICP), gravity effect, and pressure-flow curve of the shunt estimated at baseline and at 3 and 12 months postoperatively. No shunt was revised. Despite postoperative clinical improvement in all patients who received Delta valves, the mean ICP was only moderately reduced (mean decrease at 3 months 0.3 kPa [p = 0.02], at 12 months 0.2 kPa [not significant]). Patients with the greatest increase in ICP preoperatively had the most pronounced decrease postoperatively. The hydrostatic effect of the Delta valves was significantly lower than with the Hakim shunts (0.1-0.2 kPa compared with 0.6 kPa). The increased conductance (that is, lowered resistance) was up to 14 times higher with the Delta valves compared with preoperative levels.
Conclusions: The function of a CSF shunt may be more complicated than previously thought; the subcutaneous pressure acting on the antisiphon device can modify the shunt characteristics. A compensatory increase in CSF production may counteract the increased outflow through the shunt. The improved CSF outflow conductance may increase the intracranial compliance and thereby dampen a pathological ICP waveform.