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What is Hydrocephalus?

What is Hydrocephalus?

Article Content
  • Hydrocephalus Disease and Causes
  • Symptoms of Hydrocephalus
  • Symptoms of Hydrocephalus in Adults
  • Symptoms of Hydrocephalus in Babies
  • Symptoms of Hydrocephalus in the Elderly
  • Hydrocephalus Treatment
  • Treatment Methods for Hydrocephalus
  • What Should Hydrocephalus Patients Pay Attention To?
  • Hydrocephalus and Life Expectancy
  • How Long Do Hydrocephalus Babies Live?
  • End-Stage Hydrocephalus and Life Expectancy
  • Types of Hydrocephalus
  • Frequently Asked Questions about Benign Hydrocephalus
  • Hydrocephalus refers to the accumulation of fluid around the brain inside the skull, leading to swelling. This fluid, known as cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), typically circulates within the brain's cavities called ventricles. When hydrocephalus develops, the excessive accumulation of fluid causes the ventricles to expand, exerting pressure on other brain tissues. As a result of this buildup, brain damage can occur, leading to developmental, physical, or cognitive impairments.

    Hydrocephalus Disease and Causes

    The question "What causes hydrocephalus?" can be answered by stating that "Hydrocephalus disease occurs due to the accumulation of excessive fluid in the brain tissue."

    There are over 100 possible causes that can lead to this condition, but generally, the underlying reasons are based on the following three conditions:

    • Excessive production of cerebrospinal fluid
    • Blockage or narrowing in the ventricles, leading to obstruction of cerebrospinal fluid flow
    • Inability of the produced fluid to be reabsorbed into the bloodstream, resulting in accumulation

    Symptoms of Hydrocephalus

    Symptoms of hydrocephalus are typically complaints related to increased intracranial pressure. Some of the symptoms that may occur in cases of congenital hydrocephalus include:

    • Enlarged head size compared to normal
    • Swelling in the soft area at the top of the skull, known as the fontanelle
    • Eyes fixed downwards
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Feeding problems
    • Tendency to sleep
    • Seizures

    Symptoms of Hydrocephalus in Adults

    Hydrocephalus can also occur in adult individuals due to reasons such as brain hemorrhage or tumor.

    In such cases, the possible symptoms that may occur are generally as follows:

    • Chronic headaches
    • Loss of coordination
    • Difficulty in walking
    • Bladder problems
    • Vision-related issues
    • Memory impairment
    • Difficulty concentrating

    Symptoms of Hydrocephalus in Babies

    In babies, when various infections occur or when there is an obstruction that prevents the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, there is a sudden growth in the skull. This growth can increase pressure on the brain tissue, triggering conditions such as seizures. Difficulty in breastfeeding is also among the symptoms of hydrocephalus in babies. Reduced muscle tone is another complaint that can occur with this condition.

    Symptoms of Hydrocephalus in the Elderly

    In individuals over the age of 60, the following symptoms may occur if hydrocephalus develops:

    • Frequent urge to urinate, loss of bladder control
    • Memory loss
    • Progressive loss of cognitive functions and judgment
    • Difficulty walking
    • Loss of balance and coordination

    Hydrocephalus Treatment

    Hydrocephalus is a condition that can follow a fatal course if left untreated. Interventions are performed with the aim of at least preventing new damage, although they cannot reverse existing brain damage. Surgical procedures such as shunt placement or ventriculostomy are performed to correct the flow of cerebrospinal fluid.

    Treatment Methods for Hydrocephalus

    Hydrocephalus is a condition treated with brain surgery. The most commonly used method for this purpose is shunt surgery. In shunt placement, a thin and hollow tube called a shunt is inserted into the brain to drain excess fluid. During shunt surgery, neurosurgeons place the shunt into the brain, while the tube is typically terminated at another body point, usually the abdominal cavity.

    Surgical Procedures in Hydrocephalus Treatment

    Endoscopic ventriculostomy operations are another surgical procedure that can be performed as part of hydrocephalus treatment. During this surgery, a thin, long tube with a camera at its end is inserted into the third ventricle of the brain to open up any blockages and restore fluid flow.

    What Should Hydrocephalus Patients Pay Attention To?

    The damage that develops after hydrocephalus can vary from patient to patient. What needs to be watched for can vary depending on how the condition progresses and the presence of various conditions or infections before treatment. Generally, it is recommended to seek support from pediatric specialists and special education professionals and to act according to the child's needs. Developmental milestones such as sitting, crawling, standing, walking, and talking may be delayed in children with hydrocephalus. It should be remembered that early rehabilitation can support the child's adaptation.

    Hydrocephalus and Life Expectancy

    The life expectancy of individuals living with hydrocephalus varies depending on the severity of the condition, underlying causes, symptoms experienced, and the effectiveness of the treatment applied. For example, after shunt placement surgery, adults with normal pressure hydrocephalus may experience some improvement in walking, bladder problems, or cognitive abilities. However, in some individuals, no improvement may be observed even weeks or months after the surgery.

    How Long Do Hydrocephalus Babies Live?

    Generally speaking, it is not possible to predict how long someone will live after hydrocephalus. Early diagnosis and appropriate intervention can lead to better outcomes.

    End-Stage Hydrocephalus and Life Expectancy

    The life expectancy of hydrocephalus can vary from person to person. If hydrocephalus leads to permanent brain damage, long-term complications such as autism, learning difficulties, speech and vision problems, physical coordination deficits, memory problems, and attention deficits may occur. However, it is not possible to make predictions about individuals' life expectancy.

    Types of Hydrocephalus

    Hydrocephalus can occur at any age but most commonly affects infants and elderly individuals.

    Hydrocephalus is primarily classified into two types:

    • Non-communicating hydrocephalus, which occurs as a result of blockage between the ventricles. This blockage prevents the flow of cerebrospinal fluid.
    • Communicating hydrocephalus, which arises from the inability of the produced cerebrospinal fluid to be absorbed into the bloodstream. The term 'communicating' indicates that the fluid continues to circulate within the ventricles without encountering any obstruction.

    Hydrocephalus can also be classified as congenital (present at birth) or acquired. Congenital hydrocephalus is present at birth in infants due to various genetic abnormalities or developmental issues in the brain structures. Normal pressure hydrocephalus can develop as a result of conditions such as brain hemorrhage, tumors, head trauma, or meningitis.

    Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus

    Another commonly asked question related to this condition is, 'What is benign hydrocephalus?' Normal pressure hydrocephalus (benign hydrocephalus) is typically a condition that progresses slowly and tends to affect individuals over the age of 60. The initial symptoms may include sudden falls without loss of consciousness.

    In addition to this, other symptoms such as changes in walking, impaired cognitive function, and difficulty in controlling urination may also occur.

    Frequently Asked Questions about Benign Hydrocephalus

    Detecting benign hydrocephalus can be more challenging due to the mild onset and gradual progression of symptoms.

    Can Hydrocephalus be Detected During Pregnancy?

    Hydrocephalus in the fetus (enlargement of the brain ventricles due to excessive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid) can be detected during pregnancy, but diagnosis typically requires routine ultrasound or other medical imaging methods during pregnancy. Symptoms of hydrocephalus usually manifest after birth or as the baby grows.

    Can Hydrocephalus Patients Walk?

    Hydrocephalus patients, especially adults with normal pressure hydrocephalus, may experience difficulty walking. Individuals may struggle to take steps or feel their feet frozen while walking. Early diagnosis and intervention, if there is no permanent damage, can contribute to walking with appropriate rehabilitation approaches.

    Can Hydrocephalus Patients Survive?

    It is possible for hydrocephalus patients to live with early diagnosis and intervention, considering it is a complex and lifelong condition.

    Hydrocephalus refers to the excessive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid within the ventricles of the brain. If you notice symptoms of this life-threatening condition in yourself or your loved ones, it is recommended to seek support from healthcare facilities and consult with specialist physicians.

    How is Hydrocephalus Treated in Children?

    Circulation of Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) occurs within the ventricular cavities of the brain. Increased CSF production, obstruction during circulation (such as by a tumor or stenosis), Headachesor blockage during absorption (due to conditions like widespread brain hemorrhage or meningitis) can lead to CSF accumulation and ventricular dilation.

    If this increases pressure inside a child's head, hydrocephalus develops. In such cases, infants' heads begin to enlarge, their head circumference increases, and vomiting may occur. , followed by visual impairments and various neurological signs, may later appear.

    Surgeons evaluate each patient individually to determine the most appropriate treatment for hydrocephalus. This may involve the placement of a device called a shunt, which drains CSF into the abdominal cavity, or, in suitable cases, endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) is performed to open the blocked CSF circulation system.

    * Liv Hospital Editorial Board has contributed to the publication of this content .
    * Contents of this page is for informational purposes only. Please consult your doctor for diagnosis and treatment. The content of this page does not include information on medicinal health care at Liv Hospital .
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    14 May 2024 13:39:00
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