• Frequency of Alzheimer’s Disease Pathology at Autopsy in Patients with Clinical Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus

      Cabral, Danielle; The University of Arizona College of Medicine - Phoenix; Sabbagh, Marwan (The University of Arizona., 2011-03)
      Background: Normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) is considered potentially treatable with the placement of a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) shunt. Yet, the procedure has had variable success, particularly with respect to improving the cognitive impairment in NPH. The presence of neurologic co-morbidities, particularly Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), may contribute to shunt responsiveness. Uncovering the extent to which AD and NPH co-occur has implications for diagnosis and treatment of NPH. Autopsy studies of patients with NPH during life would elucidate the frequency of such co-morbidities. Methods: We conducted a search of the Sun Health Research Institute Brain Donation Program database between 1/1/1997 and 4/1/09 to identify all cases with neuropathologic evidence of dementia as well as those cases of clinically diagnosed NPH. We reviewed the medical records and brain findings of each NPH case. Results: Of the 761 cases autopsied over the study interval, 563 cases were found to have neuropathological evidence meeting criteria for a dementing illness. AD was found exclusively in 313/563 (56%) cases with 94/563 cases having a secondary diagnosis of dementia. We identified 9/761 cases with a clinical diagnosis of NPH, all nine cases were among the 563 cases with neuropathology of dementing illness at autopsy, representing 1.6% (9/563). Upon review of brain autopsy reports, 8/9 (89%) cases were found to have AD and 1/9 (11%) had progressive supranuclear palsy. Review of the medical records of the nine NPH cases revealed the following clinical co-morbidities: 5/9 with AD; 1/9 with Parkinson’s Disease (PD); 1/9 with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI); 1/9 with seizure disorder. Conclusions: Given the findings of our study, we support the AD-NPH theory and posit that AD is a common pathological co-morbidity in the setting of NPH and may preclude cognitive improvement post-shunt placement. This may have influence on selection of cases for shunting in the future.