Everything to know about hydrocephalus
“Hydrocephalus” literally translates to “water on the brain”. This condition is diagnosed and treated by Neurologist in Lahore and commonly occurs in children or adults over the age of 60 years. Read on to know more about hydrocephalus, its symptoms, types and diagnosis:
What is hydrocephalus?
Hydrocephalus is when excessive fluid builds up in the chambers of the brain known as ventricles, through which cerebrospinal fluid flows. In normal conditions cerebrospinal fluid flows through the ventricles without interruption. The function of this cerebrospinal fluid is to:
- Remove waste product from the brain’s metabolism
- Allow the brain to float in the skull
- Maintain constant pressure in the brain
- Cushion the brain against injury
However, during hydrocephalus there is excess fluid buildup in the brain that can exert pressure on the neurological tissue and result in damage. Consequently, there is intellectual, physical and developmental impairment prompting the need for immediate treatment.
According to data from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, one out of every 1000 babies is born with hydrocephalus.
What are the types of hydrocephalus?
The types of hydrocephalus are:
- Congenital hydrocephalus: this is when any anatomical deformity can cause hydrocephalus and the baby is born with this deformity.
- Acquired hydrocephalus: any secondary cause like tumor, injury, infection or cyst can cause acquired hydrocephalus to occur.
- Compensated hydrocephalus: this shows up before birth but doesn’t cause symptoms until later in life.
- Normal pressure hydrocephalus: the cause of this type of hydrocephalus is unknown. It shows up in older adults and leads to swelling in small areas of the brain without change in pressure.
What are the symptoms of hydrocephalus?
They symptoms of hydrocephalus are:
- Soft spot on the baby’s head that bulges
- Irritable baby
- Unusually large head
- Poor muscle tone
- Poor development and growth
- Baby showing poor growth
- Blurry vision
- Downwardly focused eyes also called ‘sunsetting of the eyes’
- Low energy in the baby
- Poor balance and coordination
- Problem with walking
In older individuals, hydrocephalus presents with:
- Memory loss
- General slowing of movements
- Loss of bladder control
- Trouble with walking
How is hydrocephalus diagnosed?
Hydrocephalus is diagnosed through the following investigations:
- Ultrasound scan: high frequency sound waves create images of the brain.
- MRI scan: magnetic field is used to make image of the brain.
- CT scan: this test uses x-rays to form image of the brain. In case of hydrocephalus, the scans show enlarged ventricles.
What are the treatment options?
The treatment options for hydrocephalus include:
- Shunt insertion: surgeons insert shunt with a long tube and a valve to help with the outflow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the right direction. One end of this shunt is inserted in the brain, and the other end in the chest or abdominal cavity. This shunt prevents excess fluid from accumulating in the brain, and easier to absorb.
- Ventriculostomy: in this procedure, a hole in made at the bottom of the ventricle to allow cerebrospinal fluid to leave the brain. This procedure is an alternate to shunt insertion.
- Therapy: additional treatments for patients with hydrocephalus includes therapy, such as:
- Occupational therapy
- Pediatric neurologist
- Developmental therapist
How to prevent hydrocephalus?
Hydrocephalus cannot be prevented. However, the risk of hydrocephalus and its related complications can be lowered through the help of Neurologist in Rawalpindi:
- Prenatal care: getting prenatal care during the pregnancy helps to prevent complications like premature labor which can ultimately lead to hydrocephalus.
- Prevention of injury: an important cause of hydrocephalus is injury and bleeding. Use of safety equipment like helmets and seat belts help to prevent head injuries and subsequent hydrocephalus.
- Vaccination: infections are another important cause of hydrocephalus. Getting vaccinations and regular screenings during pregnancy can save from infections that predispose to hydrocephalus.
- Using safety gear for the babies: head injuries in children can be prevented by use of safety gear like car seats, and safe strollers. Using equipment that meets safety standards is essential to prevent complications like hydrocephalus.