Cerebrospinal fluid hydrodynamics in type I Chiari malformation

Neurol Res. 2011 Apr;33(3):247-60. doi: 10.1179/016164111X12962202723805.


Purpose: The objective of this study was to review past studies that have used engineering analysis to examine cerebrospinal fluid hydrodynamics in cranial and spinal subarachnoid spaces in both healthy humans and those affected by type I Chiari malformation.

Methods: A PubMed search of literature pertaining to cerebrospinal fluid hydrodynamics was performed with a particular focus on those that utilized methods such as computational fluid dynamics or experimental flow modeling.

Discussion: From the engineer's perspective, type I Chiari malformation is an abnormal geometry of the cerebellum that causes increased resistance to cerebrospinal fluid flow between the intracranial and spinal subarachnoid space. As such, understanding the hydrodynamics of cerebrospinal fluid in the craniospinal subarachnoid space has long been thought to be important in the diagnosis and management of type I Chiari malformation. Hydrodynamic quantification of cerebrospinal fluid motion in the subarachnoid space may better reflect the pathophysiology of the disorder and serve as a prognostic indicator in conjunction with geometric magnetic resonance measurements that are currently used clinically. This review discusses the results of studies that have sought to quantify the hydrodynamics of cerebrospinal fluid motion using computational and experimental modeling and critiques the methods by which the results were obtained.

Conclusion: Researchers have found differences in cerebrospinal fluid velocities and pressures in type I Chiari malformation patients compared to healthy subjects. However, further research is necessary to determine the causal relationship between changes to hydrodynamic parameters such as cerebrospinal fluid velocity, pressure, resistance to flow, and craniospinal compliance and clinical aspects such as neurological symptoms, radiological evidence of severity, and surgical success.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arnold-Chiari Malformation / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Arnold-Chiari Malformation / pathology
  • Arnold-Chiari Malformation / physiopathology*
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Humans
  • Hydrodynamics*
  • Models, Biological
  • Syringomyelia / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Syringomyelia / complications