Priorities for hydrocephalus research: Report from a National Institutes of Health-sponsored workshop

Michael A. Williams, James P. McAllister, Marion L. Walker, Dory A. Kranz, Marvin Bergsneider, Marc R. Del Bigio, Laurel Fleming, David M. Frim, Katrina Gwinn, John R.W. Kestle, Mark G. Luciano, Joseph R. Madsen, Mary Lou Oster-Granite, Giovanna Spinella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Object. Treatment for hydrocephalus has not advanced appreciably since the advent of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) shunts more than 50 years ago. Many questions remain that clinical and basic research could address, which in turn could improve therapeutic options. To clarify the main issues facing hydrocephalus research and to identify critical advances necessary to improve outcomes for patients with hydrocephalus, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) sponsored a workshop titled "Hydrocephalus: Myths, New Facts, and Clear Directions." The purpose of this paper is to report on the recommendations that resulted from that workshop. Methods. The workshop convened from September 29 to October 1, 2005, in Bethesda, Maryland. Among the 150 attendees was an international group of participants, including experts in pediatric and adult hydrocephalus as well as scientists working in related fields, neurosurgeons, laboratory-based neuroscientists, neurologists, patient advocates, individuals with hydrocephalus, parents, and NIH program and intramural staff. Plenary and breakout sessions covered injury and recovery mechanisms, modeling, biomechanics, diagnosis, current treatment and outcomes, complications, quality of life, future treatments, medical devices, development of research networks and information sharing, and education and career development. Results. The conclusions were as follows: 1) current methods of diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes monitoring need improvement; 2) frequent complications, poor rate of shunt survival, and poor quality of life for patients lead to unsatisfactory outcomes; 3) investigators and caregivers need additional methods to monitor neurocognitive function and control of CSF variables such as pressure, flow, or pulsatility; 4) research warrants novel interdisciplinary approaches; 5) understanding of the pathophysiological and recovery mechanisms of neuronal function in hydrocephalus is poor, warranting further investigation; and 6) both basic and clinical aspects warrant expanded and innovative training programs. Conclusions. The research priorities of this workshop provide critical guidance for future research in hydrocephalus, which should result in advances in knowledge, and ultimately in the treatment for this important disorder and improved outcomes in patients of all ages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-357
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number5 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Nov 2007


  • Adult
  • Basic biomedical research
  • Children
  • Clinical research
  • Diagnostic criteria
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Infant
  • National Institutes of Health
  • Neurosurgical education
  • Normal pressure hydrocephalus
  • Pediatric neurosurgery
  • Therapeutic intervention


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