Cerebral Microbleeds—Long-Term Outcome After Cerebrospinal Fluid Shunting in Idiopathic Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus

Neurosurgery 93:300–308, 2023

Cerebral microbleeds (CMBs) are common in idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus (INPH) and have been suggested as radiological markers of a brain prone to bleeding. The presence of CMBs might be relevant when selecting patients for shunt surgery.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate whether CMBs increases long-term risk of hemorrhagic complications and mortality or affects outcomes after cerebrospinal fluid shunt surgery in a cohort of patients with INPH.

METHODS: One hundred and forty nine shunted patients with INPH (mean age, 73 years) were investigated with MRI (T2* or susceptibility-weighted imaging sequences) preoperatively. CMBs were scored with the Microbleed Anatomic Rating Scale. Patients were observed for a mean of 6.5 years (range 2 weeks to 13 years) after surgery. Hemorrhagic events and death were noted. Improvement in gait was evaluated 3 to 6 months after surgery.

RESULTS: At baseline, 74 patients (50%) had CMBs. During follow-up, 7 patients (5%) suffered a hemorrhagic stroke and 43 (29%) suffered a subdural hematoma/hygroma with a median time from surgery of 30.2 months (IQR 50). Overall, having CMBs was not associated with suffering a subdural hematoma/hygroma or hemorrhagic stroke during follow-up with 1 exception that an extensive degree of CMBs (≥50 CMB) was more common in patients suffering a hemorrhagic stroke (P = .03). CMBs were associated with increased mortality (P = .02, Kaplan-Meier, log-rank test). The presence of CMBs did not affect gait outcome (P = .28).

CONCLUSION: CMBs were associated with hemorrhagic stroke and mortality. CMBs do not seem to reduce the possibility of gait improvement after shunt surgery or contribute to the risk of hemorrhagic complications regarding subdural hematoma or hygroma.