Slowly varying pressure oscillations in the cranial enclosure are well known, especially intracranial pressure waves as best described by the pioneering works of Janny and Lundberg. Nevertheless, in spite of over twenty five years research on intracranial pressure waves, their origin and regulation remain unclear but are often considered only as pathological. Our aim was to review data on these phenomena to clarify their biological status and the role that they could play in the management of patients suffering from such intracranial neurosurgical diseases as intracranial hypertension, severe head injury, and hydrocephalus. It appears that these pressure waves reveal important information on the function of the cerebral vasculature and as such have significance for influencing intracranial compliance. Pressure waves are also closely associated with autoregulation, in particular dynamic autoregulation. It seems evident that they are not only pathophysiological but also physiological, linked with other biological parameters such as the neurovegetative cardiovascular system, breathing, and sleeping. This study shows that it is not only important to continue to explore these slow waves, but also the methods of analysis in order to more fully clarify their clinical significance.
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