“Water on the brain,” or hydrocephalus, is a delicate condition that affects patients from infancy through adulthood. At St. Joseph’s Hospital, we offer expert treatments for hydrocephalus to heal the condition and relieve its symptoms.
What is Hydrocephalus?
Hydrocephalus happens when the brain either produces too much fluid or the fluid cannot properly flow through the brain. The fluid is cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which is a clear fluid that surrounds and protects the brain and spinal cord.
CSF normally flows through spaces among sections of the brain called ventricles. When there is too much CSF in the brain, it expands the ventricles and can cause pressure on brain tissue. Because of this pressure, hydrocephalus can lead to permanent brain damage or even death if left untreated.
What Causes Hydrocephalus?
The causes of hydrocephalus are not yet fully understood. Some possible causes, which involve problems with proper CSF flow and drainage, include:
- Inherited genetic disorders or syndromes
- Defects that occur during fetal development
- Brain infections such as meningitis
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
Symptoms of Hydrocephalus
Symptoms of hydrocephalus differ among infants, children and adults. Some symptoms that are common to people of all ages include:
- Rapid head growth (in infants)
- Excessive sleepiness
- Blurry vision
- Problems with balance
- Nausea and vomiting
- Problems with memory or thinking
How is Hydrocephalus Diagnosed?
Your doctor will perform a physical exam and take your medical history. In addition, you may need one or more of the following tests to confirm a diagnosis of hydrocephalus:
- Neurological exam: Tests that measure reflexes, vision and eye movement, balance, coordination and other neurological functioning
- Ultrasound, MRI or CT scans: Imaging tests that take pictures of your brain tissue to look for excess CSF
Treatments for Hydrocephalus
At St. Joseph’s Hospital, we specialize in the latest techniques to eliminate the excess buildup of CSF. Among the treatment options we recommend are:
- Endoscopic third ventriculostomy: Minimally invasive procedure that removes blockage to allow CSF to flow and drain properly
- Ventriculoperitoneal shunt: Implantation of a tiny tube that enables proper CSF drainage
Learn more about our treatments in the Neurosurgery Program at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
For more information or for a physician referral, please call (813) 644-4322.