Cranial CT and high resolution measurements of regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) with brain dedicated single photon emission computer tomography (SPECT) and [99mTc]-d,l-hexamethylpropyleneamine oxime ([99mTc]-d,l-HMPAO) were performed before and after shunt operation in 14 consecutive patients with dementia and normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH). When compared with a control group of 14 age matched healthy volunteers, the group of NPH patients was characterised by an enlarged subcortical low-flow region, significantly reduced rCBF and enhanced side-to-side asymmetry of rCBF in the central white matter, and enhanced side-to-side asymmetry in the inferior and mid-temporal cortex. Global CBF was normal. Shunt operation reduced the mean area of the ventricles on CT and of the subcortical low-flow region on SPECT. Global CBF was unchanged. All 14 patients had an abnormal pre-shunt rCBF pattern with enlargement of the subcortical low flow region, focal cortical blood flow deficits, or both. Shunt operation improved the clinical status in 11 patients, and the area of the subcortical low flow region correctly classified 3/3 unimproved and 10/11 improved patients. Shunt operation normalised or reduced the area of the subcortical low flow region in nine of 10 patients. It is concluded that SPECT with [99mTc]-d,l-HMPAO is a useful supplement in the diagnosis of NPH versus normal ageing, and that SPECT may help to identify patients not likely to benefit clinically from surgery.
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