How to Diagnose and Treat Hydrocephalus?

Q:
How to diagnose and treat hydrocephalus?

A:
The term hydrocephalus originates from the Greek words “hydro” meaning water and “cephalus” meaning head. So it is a brain condition that happens when cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) can’t drain from the brain and causes a buildup of fluid in the skull. CSF is the clear, watery fluid that surrounds and cushions the brain and spinal cord.

The excessive accumulation of CSF leads to an abnormal widening of spaces in the brain called ventricles. This widening can damage brain tissues and cause a range of impairments in brain function. Hydrocephalus can happen at any age, but it occurs more frequently among infants and adults 60 and over.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of hydrocephalus includes following tests.

Neurological exam

The type of neurological exam will depend on a person’s age.

Brain imaging

Brain imaging tests can show enlarged ventricles caused by excess CSF. The three imaging tests include:

  • Ultrasound, for an initial assessment for infants. Ultrasound imaging may also detect hydrocephalus prior to birth when the procedure is used during routine prenatal examinations.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), for producing detailed 3-D or cross-sectional images of the brain. It is painless, noisy and requires lying still.
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan, for producing cross-sectional views of the brain. It is painless, quick and also requires lying still.

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