Building on previous National Institutes of Health-sponsored symposia on hydrocephalus research, “Opportunities for Hydrocephalus Research: Pathways to Better Outcomes” was held in Seattle, Washington, July 9–11, 2012. Plenary sessions were organized into four major themes, each with two subtopics: Causes of Hydrocephalus (Genetics and Pathophysiological Modifications); Diagnosis of Hydrocephalus (Biomarkers and Neuroimaging); Treatment of Hydrocephalus (Bioengineering Advances and Surgical Treatments); and Outcome in Hydrocephalus (Neuropsychological and Neurological). International experts gave plenary talks, and extensive group discussions were held for each of the major themes.
The conference emphasized patient-centered care and translational research, with the main objective to arrive at a consensus on priorities in hydrocephalus that have the potential to impact patient care in the next 5 years. The current state of hydrocephalus research and treatment was presented, and the following priorities for research were recommended for each theme. 1) Causes of Hydrocephalus—CSF absorption, production, and related drug therapies; pathogenesis of human hydrocephalus; improved animal and in vitro models of hydrocephalus; developmental and macromolecular transport mechanisms; biomechanical changes in hydrocephalus; and age-dependent mechanisms in the development of hydrocephalus. 2) Diagnosis of Hydrocephalus—implementation of a standardized set of protocols and a shared repository of technical information; prospective studies of multimodal techniques including MRI and CSF biomarkers to test potential pharmacological treatments; and quantitative and cost-effective CSF assessment techniques. 3) Treatment of Hydrocephalus—improved bioengineering efforts to reduce proximal catheter and overall shunt failure; external or implantable diagnostics and support for the biological infrastructure research that informs these efforts; and evidence-based surgical standardization with longitudinal metrics to validate or refute implemented practices, procedures, or tests. 4) Outcome in Hydrocephalus—development of specific, reliable batteries with metrics focused on the hydrocephalic patient; measurements of neurocognitive outcome and quality-of-life measures that are adaptable, trackable across the growth spectrum, and applicable cross-culturally; development of comparison metrics against normal aging and sensitive screening tools to diagnose idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus against appropriate normative age-based data; better understanding of the incidence and prevalence of hydrocephalus within both pediatric and adult populations; and comparisons of aging patterns in adults with hydrocephalus against normal aging patterns.