The Dandy-Walker malformation. A review of 40 cases

J Neurosurg. 1984 Sep;61(3):515-22. doi: 10.3171/jns.1984.61.3.0515.


Forty cases of Dandy-Walker malformation referred to the Hôpital Necker Enfants-Malades between 1969 and 1982 have been reviewed. The incidence of the malformation in hydrocephalus was 2.4%. There was a slight, statistically insignificant, female prevalence. Hydrocephalus should not be included in the definition of the syndrome. In 80% of the cases, it was actually a post-natal complication of the malformation and most often developed within 3 months after birth. In 80% of the cases, a communication, although insufficient, was found between the dilated 4th ventricle and the subarachnoid space. Since this communication is probably established through the foramina of Luschka, the definition of the Dandy-Walker malformation should only include atresia of the foramen of Magendie. Associated brain and systemic malformations were numerous. Among facial anomalies, facial angiomas were found in 10% of our cases. The association of facial and cardiovascular anomalies favors the hypothesis that the onset of the malformation occurs between the formation and the migration of the cells of the neural crest (that is, between the 3rd and the 4th post-ovulatory week, earlier than previously thought). Except in selected patients, membrane excision has a high rate of failure and should be abandoned. Cyst-peritoneal shunting avoids the risk of an entrapped fourth ventricle and is presently the best surgical procedure. The overall mortality in this series was 12.5%. Intelligence quotients were over 80 in 60% of the patients. Other studies will be necessary to understand why the communication between the fourth ventricle and the subarachnoid spaces, sufficient in utero, usually becomes insufficient for a normal cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) circulation in the first months following birth. Two hypotheses are discussed: a change in CSF circulation, or bleeding in the dilated fourth ventricle during delivery.

MeSH terms

  • Brain / abnormalities*
  • Cerebral Ventricles / abnormalities*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocephalus / epidemiology
  • Hydrocephalus / pathology*
  • Hydrocephalus / surgery
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Subarachnoid Space / pathology