How to Diagnose and Treat Hydrocephalus?

How to diagnose and treat hydrocephalus?

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.


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.


Treatment can vary depending on the age of the patient, the cause of the CSF buildup, and the patient’s overall health. The two major treatment options are as follows:

Shunt Procedure

The standard treatment for hydrocephalus isz the surgical insertion of a drainage system, called a shunt procedure. This procedure diverts the flow ofhydrocephalus shunt illustration CSF to another area of the body where it can be absorbed as part of the normal circulatory process. A shunt is a flexible but sturdy plastic tube. One end of the catheter is placed within a ventricle inside the brain. The other end of the catheter is commonly placed within the abdominal cavity, but may also be placed at other sites in the body.


Endoscopic Third ventriculostomy

A limited number of individuals can choose an alternative procedure called endoscopic third ventriculostomy. In this procedure, a neuroendoscope — a small camera that can visualize small and difficult-to-reach surgical areas —allows a doctor to view the ventricular surface. Once the scope is guided into position, your surgeon makes a hole in the bottom of one of the ventricles or between the ventricles to enable CSF to flow out of the brain.

If you want to know more information, please consult your health care provider.


Keywords: diagnose and treat hydrocephalus


* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.