Acta Neurochirurgica

, Volume 158, Issue 12, pp 2295–2304 | Cite as

The association between the pulse pressure gradient at the cranio-cervical junction derived from phase-contrast magnetic resonance imaging and invasively measured pulsatile intracranial pressure in symptomatic patients with Chiari malformation type 1

  • Radek FričEmail author
  • Erika Kristina Lindstrøm
  • Geir Andre Ringstad
  • Kent-André Mardal
  • Per Kristian Eide
Clinical Article - Neurosurgical Anatomy



In symptomatic Chiari malformation type 1 (CMI), impaired intracranial compliance (ICC) is associated with an increased cranio-spinal pulsatile pressure gradient. Phase-contrast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) represents a non-invasive modality for the assessment of the pulse pressure gradient at the cranio-cervical junction (CCJ). We wished to explore how the MRI-derived pulse pressure gradient (MRI-dP) compares with invasively measured pulsatile intracranial pressure (ICP) in CMI, and with healthy controls.


From phase-contrast MRI of CMI patients and healthy controls, we computed cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flow velocities and MRI-dP at the CCJ. We assessed bidirectional flow and compared the flow between the anterior and the posterior subarachnoid space at the CCJ. We computed total intracranial volume (ICV), ventricular CSF volume (VV), and posterior cranial fossa volume (PCFV). We analyzed the static and pulsatile ICP scores from overnight monitoring in CMI patients.


Five CMI patients and four healthy subjects were included. The CMI group had a significantly larger extent of tonsillar ectopia, smaller PCFV, and a smaller area of CSF in the FM. The pulsatile ICP (mean ICP wave amplitude, MWA) was abnormally increased in 4/5 CMI patients and correlated positively with MRI-dP. However, the MRI-dP as well as the CSF flow velocities did not differ significantly between CMI and healthy subjects. Moreover, bidirectional flow was observed in both CMI as well as healthy subjects, with no significant difference.


In symptomatic CMI patients, we found a significant association between the pulse pressure gradient at the CCJ derived from phase-contrast MRI and the pulsatile ICP (MWA) measured invasively. However, the MRI-dP was close to identical in CMI patients and healthy subjects. Moreover, the CSF flow velocities at the CCJ and the occurrence of bidirectional flow were not different in CMI patients and healthy individuals. Further studies are required to determine the diagnostic role of phase-contrast MRI in CMI patients.


Chiari malformation Phase-contrast magnetic resonance imaging Cerebrospinal fluid flow Intracranial pressure 


Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. For this type of study, formal consent is not required.

Conflict of interest

The software used for analysis of the ICP recordings (Sensometrics Software) is manufactured by a software company (dPCom AS, Oslo, Norway) in which the last author (PKE) has a financial interest. All other authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Radek Frič
    • 1
    Email author
  • Erika Kristina Lindstrøm
    • 2
  • Geir Andre Ringstad
    • 3
  • Kent-André Mardal
    • 2
  • Per Kristian Eide
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of NeurosurgeryOslo University Hospital – RikshospitaletOsloNorway
  2. 2.Department of Mathematics, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural SciencesUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  3. 3.Department of Radiology and Nuclear MedicineOslo University Hospital – RikshospitaletOsloNorway
  4. 4.Faculty of MedicineUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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