Diagnosis, Classification, and Management of Fourth Ventriculomegaly in Adults: Report of 9 Cases and Literature Review

Kaveh Barami, Indro Chakrabarti, James Silverthorn, Jeremy Ciporen, Paul T. Akins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: An enlarged fourth ventricle, otherwise known as fourth ventriculomegaly (4th VM), has been reported previously in the pediatric population, yet literature on adults is scant. We report our experience with 4th VM in adults over an 11-year period and review the literature. Materials and Methods: This was a retrospective chart review of adult patients with the diagnosis of 4th VM admitted to the intensive care unit in a tertiary care center. Results: Nine patients were identified with 4th VM. Most presented with symptoms in the posterior fossa. Five cases were related to previous shunting and the underlying neurosurgical diseases, and average time interval to develop symptoms was 5.3 years. We divided our cases into primary, acquired, and degenerative based on the pathophysiology involved. Treatments included extended subzero cerebrospinal fluid diversion using a frontal external ventricular drain followed by low-pressure shunt revision, endoscopic third ventriculostomy, suboccipital decompression, and fourth ventricular catheter placement. Literature review identified additional published cases, and there were no reports of a formal classification scheme or treatment algorithm. Conclusions: This case series illustrates a narrow spectrum of etiologies associated with 4th VM in adults. We propose a simple classification scheme dividing 4th VM into 3 categories: primary, acquired, and degenerative. We recommend a stepwise treatment approach starting with extended subzero cerebrospinal fluid diversion followed by shunting for symptomatic primary and acquired 4th VM. Lower success rates and greater morbidity are associated with rescue procedures such as fourth ventricle drainage catheters, endoscopic third ventriculostomies, and skull base decompression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalWorld Neurosurgery
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Arachnoiditis
  • Cerebellar atrophy
  • Coccidioidomycosis
  • Endoscopic third ventriculostomy
  • Fourth ventriculomegaly
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Isolated fourth ventricle
  • Low-pressure hydrocephalus
  • Ventricular shunts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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