J Neurosurg 129:1611–1622, 2018
The object of this study was to use diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) to characterize the long-term effects of hydrocephalus and shunting on white matter integrity and to investigate the relationship of ventricular size and alterations in white matter integrity with headache and quality-of-life outcome measures.
METHODS Patients with shunt-treated hydrocephalus and age- and sex-matched healthy controls were recruited into the study and underwent anatomical and DTI imaging on a 3-T MRI scanner. All patients were clinically stable, had undergone CSF shunt placement before 2 years of age, and had a documented history of complaints of headaches. Outcome was scored based on the Headache Disability Inventory and the Hydrocephalus Outcome Questionnaire. Fractional anisotropy (FA) and other DTI-based measures (axial, radial, and mean diffusivity; AD, RD, and MD, respectively) were extracted in the corpus callosum and internal capsule with manual region-of-interest delineation and in other regions with TBSS. Paired t-tests, corrected with a 5% false discovery rate, were used to identify regions with significant differences between patients and controls. Within the patient group, linear regression models were used to investigate the relationship between FA or ventricular volume and outcome, as well as the effect of shunt-related covariates.
RESULTS Twenty-one hydrocephalus patients and 21 matched controls completed the study, and their data were used in the final analysis. The authors found significantly lower FA for patients than for controls in 20 of the 48 regions, mostly posterior white matter structures, in periventricular as well as more distal tracts. Of these 20 regions, 17 demonstrated increased RD, while only 5 showed increased MD and 3 showed decreased AD. No areas of increased FA were observed. Higher FA in specific periventricular white matter tracts, tending toward FA in controls, was associated with increased ventricular size, as well as improved clinical outcome.
CONCLUSIONS The study shows that TBSS-based DTI is a sensitive technique for elucidating changes in white matter structures due to hydrocephalus and chronic CSF shunting and provides preliminary evidence that DTI may be a valuable tool for tailoring shunt procedures to monitor ventricular size following shunting and achieve optimal outcome, as well as for guiding the development of alternate therapies for hydrocephalus.