Vol. 3 nº 1 - Jan/Feb/Mar de 2009
Views & Reviews Páginas: 8 a 15

Normal pressure hydrocephalus: diagnostic and predictive evaluation

Authors Benito Pereira Damasceno


keywords: normal pressure hydrocephalus, neuropsychological tests, cerebrospinal fluid tap test, shunt surgery.

In typical cases, normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) manifests itself with the triad of gait disturbance, which begins first, followed by mental deterioration and urinary incontinence associated with ventriculomegaly (on CT or MRI) and normal cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pressure. These cases present minor diagnostic difficulties and are the most likely to improve after shunting. Problems arise when NPH shows atypical or incomplete clinical manifestations (25-50% of cases) or is mimicked by other diseases. In this scenario, other complementary tests have to be used, preferentially those that can best predict surgical outcome. Radionuclide cisternography, intracranial pressure monitoring (ICP) and lumbar infusion tests can show CSF dynamics malfunction, but none are able to confirm whether the patient will benefit from surgery. The CSF tap test (CSF-TT) is the only procedure that can temporarily simulate the effect of definitive shunt. Since the one tap CSF-TT has low sensitivity, it cannot be used to exclude patients from surgery. In such cases, we have to resort to a repeated CSF-TT (RTT) or continuous lumbar external drainage (LED). The most reliable prediction would be achieved if RTT or LED proved positive, in addition to the occurrence of B-waves during more than 50% of ICP recording time. This review was based on a PubMed literature search from 1966 to date. It focuses on clinical presentation, neuroimaging, complementary prognostic tests, and differential diagnosis of NPH, particularly on the problem of selecting appropriate candidates for shunt.


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