Hydrocephalus is a common disease process. Transcranial color-coded Doppler (TCCD) ultrasonography is an accepted noninvasive method with which to quantify intracranial blood flow in adults and children. The authors studied the applications of TCCD ultrasonography and the alterations of the flow velocity of the cerebral arteries in children with hydrocephalus.
One hundred thirty-five children were divided into three groups: Group 1 comprised 40 infants with asymptomatic hydrocephalus who had well-functioning ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunts; Group 2 comprised 10 children with symptomatic hydrocephalus who had malfunctioning shunts that were replaced; and Group 3 was a control group of 85 healthy infants. All patients underwent sequential measurements of cerebral blood flow (CBF) velocities (systolic and diastolic velocities) and resistivity index (RI). One group of patients underwent functional tests (compression of the anterior fontanelle and CO2 vasoreactivity) to determine hemodynamic changes in cerebral circulation.
A significant statistical change in RI measurements, end diastolic CBF velocity, and percentage of change in RI was shown in patients with malfunctioning shunts, and in infants with a well-functioning VP shunt vasomotor reactivity was severely reduced.
Transcranial color-coded Doppler ultrasonography can be used to perform follow-up assessments of normal and malfunctioning shunts in children with hydrocephalus; the functional tests are a noninvasive tool for evaluating the cerebral compliance and the cerebral autoregulation in infants with hydrocephalus. The autoregulatory capacity may partly or completely be lost in cases of long-term shunt-treated hydrocephalus, and loss of cerebral vasoreactivity may be responsible for long-term deficits commonly observed in children, which help explain some of symptoms related to slit ventricles.