Hydrocephalus

Hydrocephalus

Hydrocephalus is excess fluid in the brain, and is a condition in infants. A large head may be a symptom along with rapid increase in head size or vomiting. If caught early, placement of a shunt to reduce the fluid can result in close to normal life. If not caught, brief lifespan an severe developmental problems will result. Prevention includes fetal monitoring and growth monitoring

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    Hydrocephalus, also known as water on the brain, is a build-up of fluid inside the skull, which leads to brain swelling. The disorder is due to a problem with the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the liquid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. CSF moves through pathways of the brain called ventricles, but it also flows around the outside of the brain and through the spinal canal.Higher-than-normal amounts of CSF can occur in the brain if the flow or absorption of CSF is blocked, or if too much CSF is produced. The buildup of fluid puts pressure on the brain, pushing the brain up against the skull and damaging or destroying brain tissue

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    Hydrocephalus may be congenital or acquired. Congenital hydrocephalus is present at birth and may be caused by events or influences that occur during fetal development, or genetic abnormalities. Acquired hydrocephalus develops at the time of birth or at some point afterward. This type of hydrocephalus can affect individuals of all ages and may be caused by injury or disease.

    Hydrocephalus may also be communicating or noncommunicating. Communicating hydrocephalus occurs when the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is blocked after it exits the ventricles. This form is called communicating because the CSF can still flow between the ventricles, which remain open. Noncommunicating hydrocephalus-also called obstructive hydrocephalus-occurs when the flow of CSF is blocked along one or more of the narrow passages connecting the ventricles. One of the most common causes of hydrocephalus is aqueductal stenosis. In this case, hydrocephalus results from a narrowing of the aqueduct of Sylvius, a small passage between the third and fourth ventricles in the middle of the brain.

    There are two other forms of hydrocephalus that do not fit exactly into these four categories and primarily affect adults-hydrocephalus ex-vacuo and normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH).

    Hydrocephalus ex-vacuo occurs when stroke or traumatic injury causes damage to the brain. In these cases, brain tissue may actually shrink. NPH can occur at any age, but it is most common among the elderly. It may result from a subarachnoid hemorrhage, head trauma, infection, tumor, or complications of surgery. However, for reasons that are unknown, many people develop NPH even when none of these factors are present.

    This answer is based on source information from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

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    The number of people who develop hydrocephalus or who are currently suffering from it is difficult to establish since there is no national registry in the US. However, experts estimate that hydrocephalus affects approximately 1 in every 500 children.

    This answer is based on source information from National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
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    The prognosis for individuals diagnosed with hydrocephalus is difficult to predict, although there is some correlation between the specific cause of hydrocephalus and the outcome. Prognosis is further complicated by the presence of associated disorders, the timeliness of diagnosis, and the success of treatment. The degree to which relief of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pressure following shunt surgery can minimize or reverse damage to the brain is not well understood.

    Affected individuals and their families should be aware that hydrocephalus poses risks to both cognitive and physical development. However, many children diagnosed with the disorder benefit from rehabilitation therapies and educational interventions and go on to lead normal lives with few limitations. Treatment by an interdisciplinary team of medical professionals, rehabilitation specialists, and educational experts is critical to a positive outcome. Left untreated, progressive hydrocephalus may be fatal.

    The symptoms of normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) usually get worse over time if the condition is not treated, although some people may experience temporary improvement. While the success of treatment with shunts varies from person to person, some people recover almost completely after treatment and have a good quality of life. Early diagnosis and treatment improve the chance of a good recovery.

    This answer is based on source information from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

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    Lateral Ventricle of the Brain

    Normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) is an abnormal increase of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain's ventricles, or cavities. NPH occurs if the normal flow of CSF throughout the brain and the spinal cord is blocked in some way, causing the ventricles to enlarge, putting pressure on the brain. NPH can occur in people of any age, but it is most common in the elderly population. It may result from a subarachnoid hemorrhage, head trauma, infection, tumor, or complications of surgery. However, many people develop NPH even when none of these factors is present. In these cases, the cause of the disorder is unknown.

    Symptoms of NPH include progressive mental impairment and dementia, problems with walking, and impaired bladder control, leading to urinary frequency and/or incontinence. The person also may have a general slowing of movements or may complain that his or her feet feel "stuck." Because these symptoms are similar to those of other disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the disorder is often misdiagnosed. Many cases go unrecognized and are never properly treated. Doctors may use a variety of tests, including brain scans (computed tomography [CT] and/or magnetic resonance imaging [MRI]), a spinal tap or lumbar catheter, intracranial pressure monitoring, and neuropsychological tests, to help them diagnose NPH and rule out other conditions. In September 2005, an international team of scientists developed clinical guidelines to help physicians diagnose NPH. The guidelines were published as a supplement to the journal Neurosurgery.

    This Answer is based on source information from  the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.


    Lateral Ventricle of the Brain
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    Hydrocephalus occurs when cerebrospinal fluid, the clear liquid that surrounds the spinal cord and brain, builds up in the brain. The condition occurs in spina bifida when the brainstem and cerebellum are pushed down into the spinal canal. Hydrocephalus puts pressure on the brain and can cause permanent damage. Hydrocephalus is treated by the placement of a draining tube from the brain into the body which reduces the pressure on the brain. 


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    In small children and infants, hydrocephalus can affect the head by increasing its size to accommodate the excess fluid build up. Hydrocephalus may also slow growth in children as well impact facial formation and eye spacing. In adults, the fluid build up in hydrocephalus affects different areas of the brain and can cause you to lose your ability to control your bladder and bowel.

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    Hydrocephalus may be prevented by taking steps to reduce your chance of being affected by conditions that cause hydrocephalus. It is possible to detect birth defects and genetic abnormalities that can cause hydrocephalus by receiving proper prenatal screenings and ultrasounds. Early detection of defects that lead to hydrocephalus can result in procedures to repair the defect or abnormality before or shortly after the baby is born.

    Taking precautions to prevent injury to the head and spine may also reduce the risk of hydrocephalus. Receiving a vaccine for infections, such as meningitis, can limit the risk of contracting the types of infections that attack your nervous system and increase your risk of hydrocephalus.

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    Hydrocephalus occurs in 2 of every 1,000 births in the U.S. It is not known how many people develop it after birth. Hydrocephalus results from some common birth defects, including myelomeningocele, the most common form of spina bifida.

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    Hydrocephalus can be very serious, and even fatal, if left untreated. Fifty percent of those who fail to have their hydrocephalus treated will die. Those who are not treated and survive may have serious brain damage and physical disabilities.

    With treatment, hydrocephalus can be managed. Infants who survive to age one with hydrocephalus will not have a shortened life expectancy due to hydrocephalus. Approximately thirty percent of the children born with hydrocephalus who live past their first birthday will have normal cognitive capabilities.

    People who are affected by hydrocephalus later in life because of another disorder have the best chance of recovering to a normal state of being.

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