Comparison Between Flow-Regulated and Gravitational Shunt Valves in the Treatment of Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus: Flow-Grav Study

Neurosurgery 89:413–419, 2021

Normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) is frequently treated with ventriculoperitoneal shunt (VPS) surgery. However, VPS implantation can lead to overdrainage and complications such as headaches, hygroma, and subdural hematoma due to a siphon effect in an upright position. Gravitational valves prevent overdrainage through positiondependent adjustment of valve resistance. Flow-regulated valves that increase resistance in presence of high cerebrospinal fluid flow may provide similar protection against overdrainage and present an alternative to gravitational valves.

OBJECTIVE: To compare gravitational and flow-regulated shunt valves in patients with symptomatic NPH.

METHODS: We performed a retrospective analysis of 97 patients suffering from NPH who underwent VPS implantation with a gravitational or a flow-regulated valve. The primary endpoint was the occurrence of hygroma or subdural hematoma. Secondary endpoints were neurological outcome (Kiefer score, Stein and Langfitt score, and NPH recovery rate), frequency of valve adjustments, and reoperations.

RESULTS: No significant differences in the occurrence of hygroma and subdural hematoma (11.4% for flow-regulated valves vs 5.7% for gravitational valves, P = .462) or response to treatment (77.3% vs 81.1%, P = .802) were found. Patients with flow-regulated valves required fewer valve adjustments (1.12 vs 2.02, P < .001) to reach their optimal neurological outcome and underwent fewer surgical revisions (11.4% vs 28.3%, P = .047).

CONCLUSION: Our data suggest that shunt therapy in NPH patients with a flow-regulated instead of a gravitational valve is safe and effective with a comparable clinical outcome and risk of overdrainage complications. Moreover, patients with flow-regulated valves may need fewer valve adjustments and reoperations.

Falls and Fear of Falling in Shunted Idiopathic Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus

Neurosurgery 89:122–128, 2021

Gait and balance impairment are typical symptoms of idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus (INPH), implicating that falls may afflict these patients.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate falls, related injuries, and associated psychological features, before and after shunt surgery for INPH and compared to the general population.

METHODS: The study included 176 patients shunted for INPH and 368 age- and sexmatched controls. Falls, fear of falling (FOF), fall-related injuries (mild-severe), confidence in avoiding falls (Swedish Falls Efficacy Scale (FES(S)), quality of life (QoL; EuroQoL 5-dimension 5 level instrument), and symptoms of depression (Geriatric Depression Scale 15) were investigated. Pre- and postoperative observational times were 12 mo before surgery and 21 mo after (mean). Recurrent fallers fell ≥2 times.

RESULTS: More INPH patients than controls were recurrent fallers (67% vs 11%; P < .001). They feared falling more often (FOF, mean   standard deviation: 3.3   1.1 vs 1.6   0.9; P < .001) and had lower confidence in avoiding falls (FES(S) 78   40 vs 126   14; P < .001). After surgery, INPH patients improved in all parameters but they did not reach the levels of the controls. Among fallers there was no difference between patients and controls in the severity of injuries suffered. Low QoL and symptoms of depression were more common among recurrent fallers than one-time or nonfallers in both shunted patients and controls (P ≤ .001).

CONCLUSION: Falls, FOF, and low confidence in avoiding falls are considerable problems in INPH that may be reduced by shunt surgery. We suggest that remaining risk of falling and preventative measures are routinely considered in postoperative follow-ups and rehabilitation planning.

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