With the advent of real-time MRI, the motion and passage of cerebrospinal fluid can be visualized without gating and exclusion of low-frequency waves. This imaging modality gives insights into low-volume, rapidly oscillating cardiac-driven movement as well as sustained, high-volume, slowly oscillating inspiration-driven movement.Inspiration means a spontaneous or artificial increase in the intrathoracic dimensions independent of body position. Alterations in thoracic diameter enable the thoracic and spinal epidural venous compartments to be emptied and filled, producing an upward surge of cerebrospinal fluid inside the spine during inspiration; this surge counterbalances the downward pooling of venous blood toward the heart.Real-time MRI, as a macroscale in vivo observation method, could expand our knowledge of neurofluid dynamics, including how astrocytic fluid preloading is adjusted and how brain buoyancy and turgor are maintained in different postures and zero gravity.Along with these macroscale findings, new microscale insights into aquaporin-mediated fluid transfer, its sensing by cilia and its tuning by nitric oxide will be reviewed. By incorporating clinical knowledge spanning several disciplines, certain disorders—congenital hydrocephalus with Chiari malformation, idiopathic intracranial hypertension and adult idiopathic hydrocephalus—are interpreted and reviewed according to current concepts, from the basics of the interrelated systems to their pathology.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.