So, what is hydrocephalus? It is an abnormal swelling in the head that causes said head to appear to be abnormally large. This excess size of the head is caused by an overload of a fluid called the cerebrospinal fluid, which then stretches brain spaces, called ventricles far too broad. This happens when production and absorption rates are not balanced equally. The pressure resulting from the imbalance is what causes hydrocephalus.
Congenital And Acquired Hydrocephalus
The disorder can be congenital or acquired. The congenital hydrocephalus is one present at birth, which can be attributed to fetal development deficiencies, or genetic irregularities. Acquired hydrocephalus, on the other hand, is developed at birth, and can happen to any person of any age. This type is also attributed to a disease or an injury.
A hydrocephalus case can be classed as communicating or non-communicating. The former occurs when the CSF flow is obstructed after it exits the ventricles. It is called communicating because the CSF continues still to flow between the ventricles, which are still open. The latter type, however, doesn’t allow that since the CSF flow is obstructed along the restricted path linking the ventricles.
Hydrocephalus symptoms vary from one case to another, depending on age, disorder progression, and individual tolerances. Infants can still tolerate CSF buildup. For example, it is due to how their skull’s connecting joints aren’t fully developed yet, which lends flexibility, unlike an adult one. Common symptoms between ages are vomiting and sun-setting eyes (downward deviation). Among kids, the reported symptoms are as follows: sleepiness, irritability, and seizures.
Due to the nature of an adult skull, a CSF buildup may not be as bearable as when it happens in an infant. As such, the reported symptoms are increased and deviate from those of younger patients. Such symptoms include nausea, blurred/double vision, balance problems, poor coordination, disturbed gait, incontinence, slow or lost development process, lethargy, and drowsiness, among others.
Treatment And Help
The prevalent method of treating hydrocephalus is by surgical insertion of a shunt system. This system includes a sturdy yet flexible plastic tube. Its duty is to redirect CSF flow from the CNS to another area that can absorb it as part of a normal circulatory process. The system comprises of the shunt, a catheter; one end placed within a ventricle, and another with the abdominal cavity, which can be other parts where CSF can be absorbed. Finally, a valve regulates CSF flow and maintains a one-way flow.
There is an alternative method of treatment called third ventriculostomy. This procedure involves a neuro endoscope: a small camera that makes use of fiber optic technology to illustrate difficult-to-reach surgical areas, like the ventricular surface. Once in position, a small tool bores a hole in the third ventricle’s floor, which allows CSF to elude the obstruction and flow on to resorption around the surface of the brain.
More information about hydrocephalus and other neurological disorders funded by the NINDS (National Institute of Neurological Disorders) can be obtained by contacting the BRAIN (Brain Resources and Information Network). They are located in Bethesda, MD, with P.O. Box 5801. You can check their website here and know more about hydrocephalus.