High Risk of Dementia in Ventricular Enlargement with Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus Related Symptoms1

Anne M Koivisto, Mitja I Kurki, Irina Alafuzoff, Anna Sutela, Jaana Rummukainen, Sakari Savolainen, Ritva Vanninen, Juha E Jääskeläinen, Hilkka Soininen, Ville Leinonen
Journal of Alzheimer's Disease: JAD 2016 March 22, 52 (2): 497-507

BACKGROUND: Differential diagnosis of ventricular enlargement with normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) related symptoms is challenging. Patients with enlarged ventricles often manifest cognitive deterioration but their long-term outcome is not well known.

OBJECTIVES: We aim to evaluate long-term cognitive outcome in patients with enlarged ventricles and clinically suspected NPH.

METHODS: A neurologist and a neurosurgeon clinically evaluated 468 patients with enlarged ventricles and suspected NPH using radiological methods, intraventricular pressure monitoring, and frontal cortical brain biopsy. The neurologist confirmed final diagnoses after a median follow-up interval of 4.8 years.

RESULTS: Altogether, 232 patients (50%) with enlarged ventricles did not fulfill the criteria for shunt surgery. The incidence of dementia among patients with enlarged ventricles, and at least one NPH-related symptom with adequate follow-up data (n = 446) was high, varying from 77 (iNPH, shunt responders) to 141/1000 person-years (non-shunted patients with enlarged ventricles). At the end of the follow-up, 59% of all these patients were demented. The demented population comprised 73% of non-shunted patients with enlarged ventricles, 63% of shunted iNPH patients that did not respond to treatment, and 46% of iNPH patients that were initially responsive to shunting. The most common cause of dementia was Alzheimer's disease (n = 94, 36%), followed by vascular dementia (n = 68, 26%).

CONCLUSIONS: One-half of patients with enlarged ventricles and clinically suspected NPH were not shunted after intraventricular pressure monitoring. Dementia caused by various neurodegenerative diseases was frequently seen in patients with ventricular enlargement. Thus, careful diagnostic evaluation in collaboration with neurologists and neurosurgeons is emphasized.

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