Cerebrospinal fluid and blood flow patterns in idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus

Acta Neurol Scand. 2017 May;135(5):576-584. doi: 10.1111/ane.12636. Epub 2016 Jul 8.


Objectives: Increased aqueduct cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flow pulsatility and, recently, a reversed CSF flow in the aqueduct have been suggested as hallmarks of idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus (INPH). However, these findings have not been adequately confirmed. Our objective was to investigate the flow of blood and CSF in INPH, as compared to healthy elderly, in order to clarify which flow parameters are related to the INPH pathophysiology.

Materials and methods: Sixteen INPH patients (73 years) and 35 healthy subjects (72 years) underwent phase-contrast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Measurements included aqueduct and cervical CSF flow, total arterial inflow (tCBF; i.e. carotid + vertebral arteries), and internal jugular vein flow. Flow pulsatility, net flow, and flow delays were compared (multiple linear regression, correcting for sex and age).

Results: Aqueduct stroke volume was higher in INPH than healthy (148±95 vs 90±50 mL, P<.05). Net aqueduct CSF flow was similar in magnitude and direction. The cervical CSF stroke volume was lower (P<.05). The internal carotid artery net flow was lower in INPH (P<.05), although tCBF was not. No differences were found in internal jugular vein flow or flow delays.

Conclusions: The typical flow of blood and CSF in INPH was mainly characterized by increased CSF pulsatility in the aqueduct and reduced cervical CSF pulsatility. The direction of mean net aqueduct CSF flow was from the third to the fourth ventricle. Our findings may reflect the altered distribution of intracranial CSF volume in INPH, although the causality of these relationships is unclear.

Keywords: aqueduct flow; cerebral blood flow; cerebrospinal fluid; dementia; normal pressure hydrocephalus; phase-contrast magnetic resonance imaging.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blood Flow Velocity / physiology*
  • Cerebral Aqueduct / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cerebral Aqueduct / physiology*
  • Cerebral Ventricles / physiopathology
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocephalus, Normal Pressure / diagnostic imaging*
  • Hydrocephalus, Normal Pressure / physiopathology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulsatile Flow / physiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Single-Blind Method