Head circumference: The forgotten tool for hydrocephalus management. A reference interval study in the Spanish population

Maria A. Poca, Francisco R. Martínez-Ricarte, Mireia Portabella, Ramon Torné, Maria L. Fuertes, Pilar González-Tartiere, Juan Sahuquillo

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    Introduction In children, deviations from the normal range of head circumference (HC) have traditionally been related with CSF dynamics abnormalities. In adults, this neglected parameter is helpful in the diagnosis and understanding of the pathophysiology of some CSF abnormalities. It has been demonstrated that HC is related to height. Because humans have increased in stature dramatically during the last 50 years, pediatric charts for head growth physiology and normal HC values in adults should be reevaluated. Objectives The main aim of the present study was to assess HC in a series of 270 normal healthy Spanish adults and to determine any differences between sexes and age groups. A secondary aim was to discuss the relevance of this parameter in the management of hydrocephalus in adult people. Methods HC measurements were taken using a measuring tape placed over the greatest frontal and occipital protuberances. The reference interval and the upper and lower thresholds for HC were calculated by 3 different methods: normal distribution, the non-parametrical percentile method, and the "robust method". Results The results were consistent and showed that Spanish adult men with a HC greater than 60 cm, and Spanish adult women with a HC greater than 58 cm should be considered macrocephalic. Microcephaly should be considered when HC is 53.6 cm in men and 51.3 cm in women. Adult age groups of either sex do not present any statistically significant differences in HC. Conclusions HC obtained in Spanish adult people are greater than those reported in the classical Nellhaus graphs in both men and women aged 18. These findings should be considered in the management of hydrocephalus in adults today. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2382-2387
    JournalClinical Neurology and Neurosurgery
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2013


    • Head circumference
    • Macrocephaly
    • Microcephaly
    • Reference interval
    • Spanish people


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