The importance of the intrathecal infusion test in the diagnosis of normal pressure hydrocephalus

J Clin Neurosci. 2002 May;9(3):260-7. doi: 10.1054/jocn.2001.1004.


The intrathecal infusion test is a reliable method in diagnosing normal pressure hydrocephalus. Between May 1982 and January 2000 we investigated 300 patients suspected of having normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) by carrying out an intrathecal infusion test in a constant flow technique. The resistance to cerebrospinal fluid outflow (R(out)) in the intrathecal infusion test was the main criterion of grouping patients into those with normal pressure hydrocephalus or those with cerebral atrophy. A further differentiation into early stage and late stage was made by measuring the compliance (C(p)) - this being the secondary criterion. In 162 patients (54%) the diagnosis of NPH could be confirmed. Of these, 154 patients (95%) underwent a shunt operation. Graduation of NPH and cerebral atrophy following the results of the infusion test at an early stage and an advanced stage allow the conclusion of prognostic evaluations about the course of disease to be made. Patients with NPH in an early stage report in the follow up an improvement of their symptoms after a shunt operation in 65 percent of cases, and those with advanced stage NPH, in 50 percent of cases. The computer aided infusion test allows a reliable differentiation between patients with NPH and those with cerebral atrophy.

MeSH terms

  • Atrophy
  • Brain Diseases / diagnosis
  • Brain Diseases / pathology
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid / physiology
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocephalus, Normal Pressure / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Hydrocephalus, Normal Pressure / diagnosis*
  • Hydrocephalus, Normal Pressure / physiopathology
  • Hydrocephalus, Normal Pressure / surgery
  • Injections, Spinal
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Spinal Cord