When a child with hydrocephalus joins a school, the school will need to ascertain what action should be taken in the event that the child has a problem that could be related to his/her hydrocephalus and the parents are unavailable.
The preferences of neurosurgeons vary with each hospital unit – some like the child to be transported direct to the neurosurgical unit, others prefer the child to be assessed at a local A&E department first.
Signs of acute shunt malfunction or blockage may include; vomiting or nausea, abdominal pain, photophobia (sensitivity to light) + other visual disturbances, drowsiness, seizures (fits), headache and dizziness.
If a child with a shunt (or who has had hydrocephalus treated by 3rd ventriculostomy) displays all or some of the above THINK SHUNT
1) Inform parents 2) If parents are unavailable ask child for his/her shunt alert card & look for name of neurosurgeon. Phone neurosurgical unit & speak to Ward Sister or Neurosurgical Registrar. Please do NOT leave message with ward clerk or junior 3) It may be necessary to arrange transport to a neurosurgical unit. In some areas, the policy is for the child to be assessed at a local hospital. IF A CHILD DEVELOPS SYMPTOMS OF A SHUNT BLOCKAGE (OR MALFUNCTION OF 3RD VENTRICULOSTOMY) YOU NEED TO CONTACT THEIR SPECIALIST NEUROSURGICAL UNIT WITHIN 4 HOURS OF ACUTE SYMPTOMS DEVELOPING, FOR ADVICE Shunt malfunction may present as a chronic condition (ie over some time - weeks or even months) If a child with hydrocephalus presents with: fatigue general malaise visuo-perceptual problems being just ‘not right’ THE PARENTS NEED TO BE INFORMED Do not assume that someone else will tell them or that they will necessarily notice “vague” symptoms It is especially important that children with hydrocephalus have access to clear fluids particularly if the weather is hot, the classroom is overheated, or after exercise. Clear fluids can include water or squash, but not ‘coke’ or any drink containing caffeine behaviour changes decline in academic