Diagnosis, treatment, and analysis of long-term outcomes in idiopathic normal-pressure hydrocephalus.

Matthew J. McGirt, Graeme Woodworth, Alexander L. Coon, George Thomas, Michael A. Williams, Daniele Rigamonti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: The response to shunt surgery for idiopathic normal-pressure hydrocephalus (INPH) is variable because INPH is difficult to distinguish from other conditions causing the same symptoms. To date, no clinical picture or diagnostic test can distinguish INPH or predict response to cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) shunt surgery. We reviewed our 10-year experience with INPH to characterize long-term outcome and to identify independent predictors of outcome after shunt surgery. METHODS: Patients were classified as having INPH only if they had: 1) ventriculomegaly, 2) two or more INPH clinical features, 3) no risk factor for secondary normal-pressure hydrocephalus, 4) A- or B-waves on CSF pressure monitoring, and 5) clinical improvement during a 3-day CSF drainage trial via a spinal catheter. Independent predictors of outcome were assessed via a multivariate proportional hazards regression analysis. RESULTS: One hundred thirty-two patients underwent 179 shunt surgeries. Forty-four (33%), 79 (60%), and 99 (75%) patients demonstrated objective improvement 3, 6, and 24 months after shunt surgery, respectively. Gait improved first in 88 (93%) patients. Dementia and urinary incontinence were twofold less likely to improve. Radiological evidence of corpus callosum distension, gait impairment as the primary symptom, and shorter duration of INPH symptoms predicted improvement. Duration of symptoms and gait as the primary symptom were independent predictors by multivariate analysis. CONCLUSION: INPH can be diagnosed accurately with CSF pressure monitoring and CSF drainage via a spinal catheter. CSF shunting is safe and effective for INPH with a long-term shunt response rate of 75%. Independent predictors of improvement are the presence of gait impairment as the dominant symptom and shorter duration of symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)699-705; discussion 699-705705
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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