Causing excessive cranial pressure, hydrocephalus is the dangerous accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in brain cavities. Cerebrospinal fluid is a key component of healthy brain function, making effective treatment imperative. At IGEA Brain, Spine & Orthopedics, our award-winning medical team offers state-of-the-art treatment for patients with hydrocephalus. Serving patients from across the tri-state area, we provide access to convenient, expert care in New Jersey and New York.
Forms of Hydrocephalus
Cerebrospinal fluid is responsible for filtering the blood of chemicals and removing waste from surrounding tissue. There are varying forms of hydrocephalus that impede the function of cerebrospinal fluid, including:
- Congenital hydrocephalus: Present at birth, this affects the fetus due to environmental or genetic factors.
- Acquired hydrocephalus: Developing shortly after birth, this type can come on later on in life. Typically, this form is due to an injury, meningitis, intracranial hemorrhage, or cerebrospinal fluid infection.
- Communicating hydrocephalus: This form is created by impairment of cerebrospinal fluid flow, preventing functional ventricle circulation. After the fluid leaves the ventricles, reabsorption cannot take place.
- Non-communicating hydrocephalus: Evolving from a ventricle obstruction, this form is also known as obstructive hydrocephalus.
- Hydrocephalus ex-vacuo: This form occurs in adults after a brain injury or stroke. As the brain tissue shrinks following the event, the cerebrospinal fluid fills in the region of brain tissue loss.
- Normal pressure hydrocephalus: A form predominantly in adults in which the ventricles gradually enlarge resulting in cognitive changes, difficulty walking, and urinary issues.
Symptoms of Hydrocephalus in Pediatric Patients
Children with hydrocephalus will often have a visibly enlarged head due to cerebrospinal fluid overproduction, blockage, or difficulties with absorption. However, other signs and symptoms vary depending on the patient’s age, as detailed below:
Symptoms in Babies
- Abnormal head shape
- Swollen veins
- Bulging appearance in soft spots
- Sunsetting (downward cast of the eyes)
- Reduced appetite
- Trouble sleeping
Symptoms in Children
- Vomiting and nausea
- Balance and motor skill problems
- Personality changes
- Memory loss
- Excessive sleepiness
Symptoms in Adults
- Sudden falls
- Memory loss
- Behavior changes
Diagnosing and Treating Hydrocephalus
A number of diagnostic tests are available for hydrocephalus. First, the team at IGEA Brain, Spine & Orthopedics will conduct a neurological exam, the extent of which may vary based on the patient’s age. Generally, testing of muscle condition and movement and questions of overall well-being are involved. Then, brain imaging tests are performed, which may include:
- Brain ultrasound
- CT scan
To treat the condition, our team may recommend one of the following procedures:
Shunt Placement (indirect treatment)
Implanted in the cerebral ventricles, the shunt will bypass the flow’s obstruction and drain extra cerebrospinal fluid into other areas for reabsorption. Usually, this fluid will be drained into the following cavities:
- Peritoneal cavity (ventriculoperitoneal shunt)
- Right atrium (ventriculoatrial shunt)
- Pleural cavity (ventriculopleural shunt)
Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy (direct treatment)
Known as ETV, this treatment is based on the specific anatomy of select patients. A surgical opening is made in the third ventricle floor, allowing cerebrospinal fluid to flow into the basal cisterns. This bypasses blockages such as aqueductal stenosis.
After surgery, the patient’s brain function will be thoroughly evaluated. Follow-up imaging will also be for careful monitoring of their recovery.
Trusted Care for Hydrocephalus and Other Brain Conditions
A swift diagnosis of hydrocephalus gives patients the best chance for a full recovery. Providing care for those with hydrocephalus and other complex brain conditions in NJ and NY, the IGEA Brain, Spine & Orthopedics team is dedicated to serving the needs of patients from across the tri-state area. Schedule an appointment by contacting ustoday.