Resonant and notch behavior in intracranial pressure dynamics - Laboratory investigation

Mark E. Wagshul, Erin J. Kelly, Jing Yu Hui, Barbara Garlick, Tom Zimmerman, Michael R. Egnor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Object. The intracranial pulse pressure is often increased when neuropathology is present, particularly in cases of increased intracranial pressure (ICP) such as occurs in hydrocephalus. This pulse pressure is assumed to originate from arterial blood pressure oscillations entering the cranium; the fact that there is a coupling between the arterial blood pressure and the ICP is undisputed. In this study, the nature of this coupling and how it changes under conditions of increased ICP are investigated. Methods. In 12 normal dogs, intracarotid and parenchymal pulse pressure were measured and their coupling was characterized using amplitude and phase transfer function analysis. Mean intracranial ICP was manipulated via infusions of isotonic saline into the spinal subarachnoid space, and changes in transfer function were monitored. Results. Under normal conditions, the ICP wave led the arterial wave, and there was a minimum in the pulse pressure amplitude near the frequency of the heart rate. Under conditions of decreased intracranial compliance, the ICP wave began to lag behind the arterial wave and increased significantly in amplitude. Most interestingly, in many animals the pulse pressure exhibited a minimum in amplitude at a mean pressure that coincided with the transition from a leading to lagging ICP wave. Conclusions. This transfer function behavior is characteristic of a resonant notch system. This may represent a component of the intracranial Windkessel mechanism, which protects the microvasculature from arterial pulsatility. The impairment of this resonant notch system may play a role in the altered pulse pressure in conditions such as hydrocephalus and traumatic brain swelling. New models of intracranial dynamics are needed for understanding the frequency-sensitive behavior elucidated in these studies and could open a path for development of new therapies that are geared toward addressing the pulsation dysfunction in pathological conditions, such as hydrocephalus and traumatic brain injury, affecting ICP and flow dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)354-364
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Compliance
  • Intracranial pressure
  • Notch filter
  • Pulsatility
  • Pulse pressure
  • Resonance
  • Transfer function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology


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