The pulsatility curve-the relationship between mean intracranial pressure and pulsation amplitude

Physiol Meas. 2010 Nov;31(11):1517-28. doi: 10.1088/0967-3334/31/11/008. Epub 2010 Oct 11.


The amplitude of cardiac-related pulsations in intracranial pressure has recently been suggested as useful for selecting patients for shunt surgery in hydrocephalus. To better understand how shunting affects these pulsations, we aim to model the relationship between mean pressure and pulsation amplitude in a wide range, including low pressures typically found after shunt surgery. Twenty-five patients with probable idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus were examined with lumbar constant pressure infusion investigations including drainage of cerebrospinal fluid. Mean pressure and pulsation amplitude were determined for consecutive 1.5 s intervals, starting at peak pressure (ca 35 mmHg), after infusion, continuing during spontaneous return to baseline and drainage to 0 mmHg. The amplitude versus pressure relationship revealed a linear phase at higher pressures (14-32 mmHg, lack of fit test: p = 0.79), a transitional phase and an essentially constant phase at low pressures (0-10 mmHg, slope = -0.02, lack of fit test: p = 0.88). Individual patients' baseline values were found in all three phases. The model and methodology presented in this paper can be used to preoperatively identify patients with potential for postoperative amplitude decrease and to predict how much the amplitude can be reduced.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Pressure / physiology*
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Pulse