Authors: Bokhari RF, Baeesa SS.
Normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) is a poorly understood entity as well as a source of continuous controversy in the neuroscientific community. The surgical management of this disease requires that intracranial pressure (ICP), also referred to as the cerebrospinal fluid pressure (CSFP), be lowered using a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) diversion procedure. Numerous complications are linked with this procedure; we believe that new evidence suggests that the induction or acceleration of glaucomatous optic neuropathy are possible sequelae that warrant further investigation. We also suggest potential solutions derived from the increased understanding of the disease's pathophysiology and new advances in imaging of the optic nerve head complex. The recent inclusion of the translaminar gradient (TLG) (the difference between the intraocular pressure (IOP) and the ICP/CSFP across the thickness of the lamina cribrosa in the optic nerve head complex) in the pathogenesis of normal tension glaucoma (NTG) suggests that the disease may be a complication encountered during the treatment of NPH with CSF diversion procedures. The significant decrease in CSFP required to treat NPH increases this gradient. In addition, there have been recent observations of an increased prevalence of NTG, as well as other forms of glaucoma, among patients with NPH, thought to be due to inherently fragile neurons in these patients. This new data suggest that patients who undergo ICP lowering therapy for their NPH may be at a higher risk of developing or accelerating already present NTG. We present the clinical and theoretical basis for our hypothesis after reviewing the relevant literature linking the two entities. We also propose a possible solution, as we believe that treatment guidelines for NPH should take the TLG into account. Indeed, recent advances in the imaging of the optic nerve head complex may provide an opportunity to detect the mechanical sequelae of an increased TLG in the preclinical stage, i.e., prior to optic nerve damage. If we are able to determine safe parameters for the TLG in this population, we may be able to recommend the initiation of prophylactic glaucoma therapy for selected patients.