Object: The aim of this study was to construct a model of age-related changes in ventricular volume in a group of normal children ages 1 month to 15 years, which could be used for comparative studies of cerebrospinal fluid circulation disorders and cerebral atrophy developmental syndromes.
Methods: A magnetic resonance imaging-based segmentation technique was used to measure ventricular volumes in normal children; each volume was then plotted against the child's age. In addition, intracranial volumes were measured and the ratio of ventricular to intracranial volume was calculated and plotted against age. The study group included 71 normal children, 39 boys and 32 girls, whose ages ranged from 1 month to 15.3 years (mean 84.9 months, median 79 months). The mean ventricular volume was 21.3 cm3 for the whole group, 22.7 cm3 in boys and 19.6 cm3 in girls (p = 0.062, according to t-tests). The mean ventricular volume at 12 months for the whole group was 17 cm3 (20 cm3 in boys and 15 cm3 in girls), representing 65% of the volume achieved by 15 years of age (87% in boys and 53% in girls). The volume increased by a factor of 1.53, to 26 cm3 (23 cm3 in males and 28 cm3 in females, increase factors of 1.15 and 1.86, respectively) at 15 years of age. The change in ventricular volume with age is not linear, but follows a segmental pattern. These age periods were defined as: 0 to 3, 4 to 6, 7 to 10, and 11 to 16 years. A statistical difference based on sex was only demonstrated in the first 6 years of life. The mean ventricular volume for the first 6-year period was 22.4 cm3 in boys and 15.7 cm3 in girls, and the difference was significant for the two sexes (linear regression analysis for age and sex, significant according to analysis of variance regression at 0.007, p = 0.108 for age, p = 0.012 for sex). Thereafter, there was no significant difference in ventricular volume between boys and girls with further growth. The ratio of ventricular volume to intracranial volume was 0.0175 for the whole group, 0.017 in boys and 0.018 in girls (p = 0.272, according to t-tests). At 12 months of age the ratio was 0.019; it stabilized to 0.015 at 8 years of age, and increased to 0.018 at 15 years of age. No statistical difference based on sex was demonstrated with growth.
Conclusions: The ventricular volume in normal children increases with age by a factor of 1.5; the increase is in a nonlinear segmental pattern. Boys have significantly higher ventricular volumes only in the first 6 years of life. The ventricular/intracranial volume ratio remains stable throughout childhood.