Relationship between Cough-Associated Changes in CSF Flow and Disease Severity in Chiari I Malformation: An Exploratory Study Using Real-Time MRI.

Research paper by A F AF Bezuidenhout, D D Khatami, C B CB Heilman, E M EM Kasper, S S Patz, N N Madan, Y Y Zhao, R A RA Bhadelia

Indexed on: 12 May '18Published on: 12 May '18Published in: AJNR. American journal of neuroradiology


Currently no quantitative objective test exists to determine disease severity in a patient with Chiari I malformation. Our aim was to correlate disease severity in symptomatic patients with Chiari I malformation with cough-associated changes in CSF flow as measured with real-time MR imaging. Thirteen symptomatic patients with Chiari I malformation (tonsillar herniation of ≥5 mm) were prospectively studied. A real-time, flow-sensitized pencil-beam MR imaging scan was used to measure CSF stroke volume during rest and immediately following coughing and relaxation periods (total scan time, 90 seconds). Multiple posterior fossa and craniocervical anatomic measurements were also obtained. Patients were classified into 2 groups by neurosurgeons blinded to MR imaging measurements: 1) nonspecific Chiari I malformation (5/13)-Chiari I malformation with nonspecific symptoms like non-cough-related or mild occasional cough-related headache, neck pain, dizziness, paresthesias, and/or trouble swallowing; 2) specific Chiari I malformation (8/13)-patients with Chiari I malformation with specific symptoms and/or objective findings like severe cough-related headache, myelopathy, syringomyelia, and muscle atrophy. The Spearman correlation was used to determine correlations between MR imaging measurements and disease severity, and both groups were also compared using a Mann-Whitney test. There was a significant negative correlation between the percentage change in CSF stroke volume (resting to postcoughing) and Chiari I malformation disease severity ( = 0.59; = .03). Mann-Whitney comparisons showed the percentage change in CSF stroke volume (resting to postcoughing) to be significantly different between patient groups ( = .04). No other CSF flow measurement or anatomic measure was significantly different between the groups. Our exploratory study suggests that assessment of CSF flow response to a coughing challenge has the potential to become a valuable objective noninvasive test for clinical assessment of disease severity in patients with Chiari I malformation. © 2018 by American Journal of Neuroradiology.