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Applied Bionics and Biomechanics
Volume 7 (2010), Issue 3, Pages 187-197

Finite Element Analysis of Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus: Influence of CSF Content and Anisotropy in Permeability

K. Shahim,1 J.-M. Drezet,1 J.-F. Molinari,2 R. Sinkus,3 and S. Momjian4

1LSMX, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
2LSMS, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
3Laboratoire Ondes et Acoustique, ESPCI, Paris, France
4University Hospitals of Geneva and University of Geneva, Switzerland

Received 27 May 2010

Copyright © 2010 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Hydrocephalus is a cerebral disease where brain ventricles enlarge and compress the brain parenchyma towards the skull leading to symptoms like dementia, walking disorder and incontinence. The origin of normal pressure hydrocephalus is still obscure. In order to study this disease, a finite element model is built using the geometries of the ventricles and the skull measured by magnetic resonance imaging. The brain parenchyma is modelled as a porous medium fully saturated with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) using Biot's theory of consolidation (1941). Owing to the existence of bundles of axons, the brain parenchyma shows locally anisotropic behaviour. Indeed, permeability is higher along the fibre tracts in the white matter region. In contrast, grey matter is isotropic. Diffusion tensor imaging is used to establish the local CSF content and the fibre tracts direction together with the associated local frame where the permeability coefficients are given by dedicated formulas. The present study shows that both inhomogeneous CSF content and anisotropy in permeability have a great influence on the CSF flow pattern through the parenchyma under an imposed pressure gradient between the ventricles and the subarachnoid spaces.