Neuropsychological assessments and cognitive profile mostly associated with shunt surgery in idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus patients: diagnostic and predictive parameters and practical implications

Acta Neurochir (Wien). 2021 Sep 3. doi: 10.1007/s00701-021-04976-z. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Cognitive decline is a well-documented feature of idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus (iNPH) that can be reversible following cerebrospinal fluid tap tests (CSF-TT). The current gold standard for selecting iNPH patients for shunt surgery is measurable improvement in gait tests following CSF-TT. However, the diagnostic significance and predictive role of pre-surgical cognitive evaluations in probable iNPH patients is still controversial.

PURPOSE: To find the neuropsychological (NPSY) tests and cognitive aspects mostly associated with shunt surgery in iNPH.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: A retrospective comparison between probable iNPH patients who, after undergoing CSF-TT with gait and cognitive evaluations, ended up receiving a shunt (group 1) and probable iNPH patients who ended up with no shunt surgery (group 2). Differences in the diagnostic and predictive results of variety of NPSY tests at baseline, pre-CSF-TT, and post-CSF-TT were used for thorough statistical calculations.

RESULTS: A total of 147 patients with probable iNPH were included. Of those, 58 (39.45%, group 1) patients underwent shunt surgery, while 89 (60.55%, group 2) did not. For the vast majority of the cognitive tests used, no statistically significant differences were found between the groups at baseline (pre-CSF-TT). Following CSF-TT, the “naming” component of the Cognistat test was the only single test to show statically significant difference in improvement between the two groups. Combining at least two tests led to increased levels of accuracy and specificity; however, the sensitivity remained < 50. The only two combinations that were associated with sensitivity ≥ 70 were either any improvement in the Cognistat test (p = 0.627) or any improvement in either its naming, memory, or judgment components (p = 0.015).

CONCLUSION: Cognitive tests, even when combined to cover several cognitive aspects, are not sensitive enough to act as an independent reliable diagnostic and predictive tool, especially when relying on their scores as baseline. In order to avoid cumbersome and unnecessary tests to our patients and to reduce the number of patients who are denied proper treatment due to misdiagnosis, we recommend to use NPSY tests that examine the cognitive aspects of naming and memory, in addition to 2-3 tests for executive functions.

PMID:34480204 | DOI:10.1007/s00701-021-04976-z

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