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Salomon Hakim and the Discovery of Normal-Pressure Hydrocephalus

Wallenstein, Matthew B. MD; McKhann, Guy M. II MD

Neurosurgery 67:1:155–159.

Link to free article.


Normal-pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) is a chronic neurological disorder characterized by enlarged ventricles and a triad of clinical symptoms affecting gait, cognition, and urinary continence. Salomón Hakim first identified the syndrome in 1957 at the Hospital San Juan de Dios in Bogotá, Colombia. Even after decades of international focus and thousands of publications on his disorder, Hakim's story remains largely untold.

In this historical review, we explore the discovery of NPH through a series of personal interviews with Professor Hakim and his family, discussions with former colleagues, and review of the relevant medical literature.

Professor Hakim first published his thesis in 1964 and 6 case reports of NPH in The New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the Neurological Sciences in 1965. Hakim rose to the forefront of academic medicine as he described a newfound ability to reverse symptoms of “neurodegeneration” that had long been considered irreversible.

As we learn more about NPH, the fascinating story of Professor Hakim, the father of NPH, is of both historical relevance and current interest.

Comments (1)Add Comment

written by Thomas S, July 07, 2010
A very interesting paper about professor Hakim and the discovery of normal-pressure hydrocephalus. The paper even makes it possible to understand why these patients have enlarged ventricles despite normal intracranial pressure.

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