INTRODUCTION: The treatment of hydrocephalus has been a topic of intense research ever since the first clinically successful use of a valved cerebrospinal fluid shunt 72 years ago. While ample studies elucidating different phenomena impacting this treatment exist, there are still gaps to be filled. Specifically, how intracranial, intrathecal, arterial, and venous pressures react and communicate with each other simultaneously.
METHODS: An in-vivo sheep trial (n = 6) was conducted to evaluate and quantify the communication existing within the cranio-spinal, arterial, and venous systems (1 kHz sampling frequency). Standardized intrathecal infusion testing was performed using an automated infusion apparatus, including bolus and constant pressure infusions. Bolus infusions entailed six lumbar intrathecal infusions of 2 mL Ringer’s solution. Constant pressure infusions were comprised of six regulated pressure steps of 3.75 mmHg for periods of 7 min each. Mean pressure reactions, pulse amplitude reactions, and outflow resistance were calculated.
RESULTS: All sheep showed intracranial pressure reactions to acute increases of intrathecal pressure, with four of six sheep showing clear cranio-spinal communication. During bolus infusions, the increases of mean pressure for intrathecal, intracranial, arterial, and venous pressure were 16.6 ± 0.9, 15.4 ± 0.8, 3.9 ± 0.8, and 0.1 ± 0.2 mmHg with corresponding pulse amplitude increases of 2.4 ± 0.3, 1.3 ± 0.3, 1.3 ± 0.3, and 0.2 ± 0.1 mmHg, respectively. During constant pressure infusions, mean increases from baseline were 14.6 ± 3.8, 15.5 ± 4.2, 4.2 ± 8.2, and 3.2 ± 2.4 mmHg with the corresponding pulse amplitude increases of 2.5 ± 3.6, 2.5 ± 3.0, 7.7 ± 4.3, and 0.7 ± 2.0 mmHg for intrathecal, intracranial, arterial, and venous pulse amplitude, respectively. Outflow resistances were calculated as 51.6 ± 7.8 and 77.8 ± 14.5 mmHg/mL/min for the bolus and constant pressure infusion methods, respectively-showing deviations between the two estimation methods.
CONCLUSIONS: Standardized infusion tests with multi-compartmental pressure recordings in sheep have helped capture distinct reactions between the intrathecal, intracranial, arterial, and venous systems. Volumetric pressure changes in the intrathecal space have been shown to propagate to the intraventricular and arterial systems in our sample, and to the venous side in individual cases. These results represent an important step into achieving a more complete quantitative understanding of how an acute rise in intrathecal pressure can propagate and influence other systems.