The outcome in 37 adult patients with idiopathic communicating hydrocephalus treated by ventriculoatrial shunting is presented. Only 33% showed definite improvement, and no diagnostic procedures accurately predicted the outcome of surgery. These were compared with a "control" group of 12 patients who were not shunted; 50% of these were stable for up to 36 months. These findings, and the high frequency of serious complications (35%), suggest caution in recommending a shunt procedure.
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