Hydrodynamic and Longitudinal Impedance Analysis of Cerebrospinal Fluid Dynamics at the Craniovertebral Junction in Type I Chiari Malformation

Bryn A. Martin, Wojciech Kalata, Nicholas Shaffer, Paul Fischer, Mark Luciano, Francis Loth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Elevated or reduced velocity of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) at the craniovertebral junction (CVJ) has been associated with type I Chiari malformation (CMI). Thus, quantification of hydrodynamic parameters that describe the CSF dynamics could help assess disease severity and surgical outcome. In this study, we describe the methodology to quantify CSF hydrodynamic parameters near the CVJ and upper cervical spine utilizing subject-specific computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations based on in vivo MRI measurements of flow and geometry. Hydrodynamic parameters were computed for a healthy subject and two CMI patients both pre- and post-decompression surgery to determine the differences between cases. For the first time, we present the methods to quantify longitudinal impedance (LI) to CSF motion, a subject-specific hydrodynamic parameter that may have value to help quantify the CSF flow blockage severity in CMI. In addition, the following hydrodynamic parameters were quantified for each case: maximum velocity in systole and diastole, Reynolds and Womersley number, and peak pressure drop during the CSF cardiac flow cycle. The following geometric parameters were quantified: cross-sectional area and hydraulic diameter of the spinal subarachnoid space (SAS). The mean values of the geometric parameters increased post-surgically for the CMI models, but remained smaller than the healthy volunteer. All hydrodynamic parameters, except pressure drop, decreased post-surgically for the CMI patients, but remained greater than in the healthy case. Peak pressure drop alterations were mixed. To our knowledge this study represents the first subject-specific CFD simulation of CMI decompression surgery and quantification of LI in the CSF space. Further study in a larger patient and control group is needed to determine if the presented geometric and/or hydrodynamic parameters are helpful for surgical planning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere75335
JournalPloS one
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 10 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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