What is Hydrocephalus?

Hydrocephalus is an abnormal buildup of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the ventricles of the brain. The fluid is often under increased pressure and can compress and damage the brain. This is an abnormal increase in the amount of cerebrospinal fluid within the cranial cavity that is accompanied by expansion of the cerebral ventricles, enlargement of the skull and especially the forehead, and atrophy of the brain.

Causes:

  • Congenital brain defects
  • Hemorrhage, either into the ventricles or the subarachnoid space
  • Infection of the central nervous system (syphilis, herpes, meningitis, encephalitis, or mumps)
  • Tumor

Symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting, especially in the morning
  • Lethargy
  • Disturbances in walking (gait)
  • Double vision
  • Subtle difficulties in learning and memory
  • Delay in children achieving developmental milestones

Treatment:

Cerebral shunts:
It is commonly used to treat hydrocephalus, the swelling of the brain due to excess buildup of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). If left unchecked, the cerebral spinal fluid can build up leading to an increase in intracranial pressure (ICP) which can lead to intracranial hematoma, cerebral edema, crushed brain tissue or herniation. The cerebral shunt can be used to alleviate or prevent these problems in patients who suffer from hydrocephalus or other related diseases. Shunts can come in a variety of forms but all of them consist of a pump or drain connected to a long catheter, the end of which is usually placed in the peritoneal cavity. The main differences between shunts are usually in the materials used to construct them, the types of pumps used, and whether the pump is programmable or not.