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Rationale and Objectives: The aim of the study is to elucidate the location and amount of spinal cerebrospinal fluid pulsations and to differentiate and quantify the cardiac and the respiratory influence.

Materials and Methods: An echo planar imaging sequence was applied to 5 different levels of the spinal canal of 7 healthy volunteers. The amount of maximal flow and respiratory signal variation were determined by a time and frequency domain analysis, respectively.

Results: CSF pulsation was high in the anterior cervical and in the thoracolumbar spine. Respiratory influence rose by 19% at C1 and by 28% at T12. The systolic flow was elevated during late expiration and the diastolic upward movement was pronounced by early expiration.

Conclusion: The pulsation in the lower spine seems to be related to a second motor of CSF movement because there is a rising respiratory influence and a reappearance of pulsation waves. Physiological spinal CSF pulsation contains a relevant respiratory component.

(C) 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.