Subarachnoid space: new tricks by an old dog

Frydrychowski AF, Szarmach A, Czaplewski B, et al.

PloS one 2012;7:e37529.

PURPOSE: The purpose of the study was to: (1) evaluate the subarachnoid space (SAS) width and pial artery pulsation in both hemispheres, and (2) directly compare magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to near-infrared transillumination/backscattering sounding (NIR-T/BSS) measurements of SAS width changes in healthy volunteers. METHODS: The study was performed on three separate groups of volunteers, consisting in total of 62 subjects (33 women and 29 men) aged from 16 to 39 years. SAS width was assessed by MRI and NIR-T/BSS, and pial artery pulsation by NIR-T/BSS. RESULTS: In NIR-T/BSS, the right frontal SAS was 9.1% wider than the left (p<0.01). The SAS was wider in men (p<0.01), while the pial artery pulsation was higher in women (p<0.01). Correlation and regression analysis of SAS width changes between the back- and abdominal-lying positions measured with MRI and NIRT-B/SS demonstrated high interdependence between both methods (r = 0.81, p<0.001). CONCLUSIONS: NIR-T/BSS and MRI were comparable and gave equivalent modalities for the SAS width change measurements. The SAS width and pial artery pulsation results obtained with NIR-T/BSS are consistent with the MRI data in the literature related to sexual dimorphism and morphological asymmetries between the hemispheres. NIR-T/BSS is a potentially cheap and easy-to-use method for early screening in patients with brain tumours, increased intracranial pressures and other abnormalities. Further studies in patients with intracranial pathologies are warranted.