Objectives: To compare diffusion tensor (DT)-derived indices from the thalamic nuclei and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) hydrodynamic parameters for the prediction of gait responsiveness to the CSF tap test in early iNPH patients. Methods: In this study, 22 patients with iNPH and 16 normal controls were enrolled with the approval of an institutional review board. DT imaging and phase-contrast magnetic resonance imaging were performed in patients and controls to determine DT-related indices of the sensorimotor-related thalamic nuclei and CSF hydrodynamics. Gait performance was assessed in patients using gait scale before and after the tap test. The Mann-Whitney U test and receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis were applied to compare group differences between patients and controls and assess the predictive performance of gait responsiveness to the tap test in the patients. Results: Fractional anisotropy (FA) and axial diffusivity showed significant increases in the ventrolateral (VL) and ventroposterolateral (VPL) nuclei of the iNPH group compared with those of the control group (p < 0.05). The predictions of gait responsiveness of ventral thalamic FA alone (area under the ROC curve [AUC] < 0.8) significantly outperformed those of CSF hydrodynamics alone (AUC < 0.6). The AUC curve was elevated to 0.812 when the CSF peak systolic velocity and FA value were combined for the VPL nucleus, yielding the highest sensitivity (0.769) and specificity (0.778) to predict gait responses. Conclusions: Combined measurements of sensorimotor-related thalamic FA and CSF hydrodynamics can provide potential biomarkers for gait response to the CSF tap test in patients with iNPH. Key Points: • Ventrolateral and ventroposterolateral thalamic FA may predict gait responsiveness to tap test.• Thalamic neuroplasticity can be assessed through DTI in idiopathic normal-pressure hydrocephalus.• Changes in the CST associated with gait control could trigger thalamic neuroplasticity.• Activities of sensorimotor-related circuits could alter in patients with gait disturbance.• Management of patients with iNPH could be more appropriate.
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