Intracranial pressure and optic disc changes in a rat model of obstructive hydrocephalus

Hagen SM,, Eftekhari S,, Hamann S, Juhler M & Jensen RH


The kaolin induced obstructive hydrocephalus (OHC) model is well known for its ability to increase intracranial pressure (ICP) in experimental animals. Papilledema (PE) which is a predominant hallmark of elevated ICP in the clinic has not yet been studied in this model using high-resolution digital fundus microscopy. Further, the long-term effect on ICP and optic nerve head changes have not been fully demonstrated. In this study we aimed to monitor epidural ICP after induction of OHC and to examine changes in the optic disc. In addition, we validated epidural ICP to intraventricular ICP in this disease model.


Thirteen male Sprague-Dawley rats received an injection into the cisterna magna containing either kaolin-Ringer’s lactate suspension (n = 8) or an equal amount of Ringer’s lactate solution (n = 5). Epidural ICP was recorded post-operatively, and then continuously overnight and followed up after 1 week. The final epidural ICP value after 1 week was confirmed with simultaneous ventricular ICP measurement. Optic disc photos (ODP) were obtained preoperatively at baseline and after one week and were assessed for papilledema.


All animals injected with kaolin developed OHC and had significant higher epidural ICP (15.49 ± 2.47 mmHg) compared to control animals (5.81 ± 1.33 mmHg) on day 1 (p < 0.0001). After 1 week, the epidural ICP values were subsided to normal range in hydrocephalus animals and there was no significant difference in epidural ICP between the groups. Epidural ICP after 1 week correlated with the ventricular ICP with a Pearson’s r = 0.89 (p < 0.0001). ODPs from both groups showed no signs of acute papilledema, but 5 out of 8 (62.5%) of the hydrocephalus animals were identified with peripapillary changes.


We demonstrated that the raised ICP at day 1 in the hydrocephalus animals was completely normalized within 1 week and that epidural ICP measurements are valid method in this model. No acute papilledema was identified in the hydrocephalus animals, but the peripapillary changes indicate a potential gliosis formation or an early state of a growing papilledema in the context of lateral ventricle dilation and increased ICP.

Read the full paper in BMC Neurosci (click here).