Mechanisms behind altered pulsatile intracranial pressure in idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus

Acta Neurochirurgica (2020) 162:1803–1813

The dementia subtype idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus (iNPH) has unknown etiology, but one characteristic is elevated intracranial pressure (ICP) wave amplitudes in those individuals who respond with clinical improvement following cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) diversion. To explore the mechanisms behind altered ICP wave amplitudes, we correlated central aortic blood pressure (BP) and ICP waveform amplitudes (intracranial aortic amplitude correlation) and examined how this correlation relates to ICP wave amplitude levels and systemic hemodynamic parameters.

Methods The study included 29 patients with probable iNPH who underwent continuous multi-hour measurement of ICP, radial artery BP, and systemic hemodynamic parameters. The radial artery BP waveforms were used to estimate central aortic BP waveforms, and the intracranial aortic amplitude correlation was determined over consecutive 4-min periods.

Results The average intracranial aortic amplitude correlation was 0.28 ± 0.16 at the group level. In the majority of iNPH patients, the intracranial aortic amplitude correlation was low, while in about 1/5 patients, the correlation was rather high (average Pearson correlation coefficient > 0.4). The degree of correlation was hardly influenced by systemic hemodynamic parameters.

Conclusions In about 1/5 iNPH patients of this study, the intracranial aortic amplitude correlation (IAACAORTIC) was rather high (average Pearson correlation coefficient > 0.4), suggesting that cerebrovascular factors to some extent may affect the ICP wave amplitudes in a subset of patients. However, in 14/19 (74%) iNPH patients with elevated ICP wave amplitudes, the intracranial aortic amplitude correlation was low, indicating that the ICP pulse amplitude in most iNPH patients is independent of central vascular excitation, ergo it is modulated by local cerebrospinal physiology. In support of this assumption, the intracranial aortic amplitude correlation was not related to most systemic hemodynamic variables. An exception was found for a subgroup of the patients with high systemic vascular resistance, where there was a correlation.