OBJECTIVE--To design a computerised infusion test to compensate for the disadvantages of Katzman's lumbar infusion method: inadequate accuracy of estimation of the resistance to cerebrospinal fluid outflow and poor predictive value in normal pressure hydrocephalus. METHODS--Accuracy was improved by intracranial pressure signal processing and model analysis for measurement of cerebrospinal compensatory variable. These include the CSF outflow resistance, brain compliance, pressure-volume index, estimated sagittal sinus pressure, CSF formation rate, and other variables. Infusion may be made into the lumbar space, ventricles, or, when assessing shunt function in vivo, the shunt chamber. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS--The computerised test has been used for five years in a multicentre study in 350 hydrocephalic patients of various ages, aetiologies, and states of cerebrospinal compensation. The principles of using the test to characterise different types of CSF circulatory disorders in patients presenting with ventricular dilatation, including brain atrophy and normal and high pressure hydrocephalus, are presented and illustrated. Previous studies showed a positive correlation between cerebrospinal compensatory variables and the results of shunting, but such a prediction remains difficult in idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus, particularly in elderly patients. The technique is helpful in the assessment of shunt malfunction, including posture-related overdrainage, over-drainage related to the nocturnal B wave activity, and proximal or distal shunt obstruction. The appendix presents an introduction of the mathematical modelling of CSF pressure volume-compensation included in computerised infusion test software.
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