Shunting effects in patients with idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus; correlation with cerebral and leptomeningeal biopsy findings

R A Bech, G Waldemar, F Gjerris, L Klinken, M Juhler


Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH) is a potentially treatable syndrome with abnormal cerebrospinal fluid dynamics. Meningeal fibrosis and/or obliteration of the subarachnoid space have been suggested as one of the patho-anatomical substrates. However, other types of adult onset dementia, predominantly Alzheimer's disease and Vascular Dementia, may mimic the clinical NPH characteristics. The purpose of the present study was to correlate cerebral parenchymal and leptomeningeal biopsy findings to the clinical outcome after CSF shunting in a prospective group of idiopathic NPH (INPH) patients. The study comprises 27 patients with INPH, diagnosed and shunted according to generally accepted clinical, imaging and hydrodynamic criteria. In all patients a frontal leptomeningeal and brain biopsy was obtained prior to the shunt insertion. Degenerative cerebral changes, most often Alzheimer (6 cases) or vascular changes (7 cases) were described in 14 out of 27 biopsies. Arachnoid fibrosis was found in 9 of the 18 biopsies containing arachnoid tissue. Overall, nine patients (33%) improved, of whom 6 presented Alzheimer or vascular changes in their biopsies. No correlation was found between clinical outcome and the presence or absence of degenerative cerebral changes and/or arachnoid fibrosis. However, a tendency towards higher improvement rates was noted in the subgroups presenting degenerative cerebral changes or arachnoid fibrosis. The results suggest that no constant morphological element exists in the syndrome of INPH. Various aetiologies may be involved in the pathogenesis and possibly in some cases co-existing: Patients may also improve by shunting despite the presence of degenerative cerebral parenchymal changes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Neurochirurgica
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)633-9
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease/complications
  • Arachnoid/pathology
  • Biopsy
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Pressure
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders/complications
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Fibrosis/complications
  • Humans
  • Hydrocephalus, Normal Pressure/pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pia Mater/pathology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt


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