Hydrocephalus

Adult hydrocephalus, also known as acquired hydrocephalus, occurs when there is an imbalance between the production and absorption of CSF in the brain, resulting in fluid buildup. This buildup can lead to swelling and enlargement of the ventricles, putting pressure on surrounding brain tissue. Adult hydrocephalus can develop later in life due to various underlying causes, including brain tumors, head injury, infection, or bleeding within the brain.

Symptoms

Symptoms of adult hydrocephalus can vary widely and may develop gradually over time. Common symptoms may include:

  • Headache, often worse in the morning
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Vision problems, such as blurred or double vision
  • Cognitive difficulties, including memory loss or confusion
  • Balance and coordination issues
  • Urinary incontinence or changes in bladder control
  • Changes in personality or behavior
  • Seizures (in some cases)

It’s essential to note that symptoms may be subtle or nonspecific, making the diagnosis challenging without proper evaluation by a healthcare professional.

Diagnosis

Diagnosing adult hydrocephalus typically involves a comprehensive evaluation by a neurologist or neurosurgeon. Diagnostic tests may include:

  • Neurological examination to assess cognitive function, coordination, and reflexes.
  • Imaging studies such as MRI or CT scans to visualize the brain’s structure and assess CSF flow.
  • Lumbar puncture (spinal tap) to measure CSF pressure and analyze its composition.

Treatment Options

Treatment for adult hydrocephalus aims to reduce CSF buildup and alleviate symptoms. Depending on the underlying cause and severity of the condition, treatment options may include:

  • Shunt Placement: A surgical procedure to implant a shunt—a flexible tube that diverts excess CSF from the brain to another part of the body where it can be absorbed, such as the abdomen.
  • Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy (ETV): An alternative surgical approach that creates a new pathway for CSF drainage by making a hole in the floor of the third ventricle.

The choice of treatment depends on factors such as the cause of hydrocephalus, the patient’s overall health, and individual preferences. Healthcare providers will work closely with patients to develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to their needs.

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