Treatment of hydrocephalus

Hydrocephalus is usually treated by diverting the cerebro spinal fluid (CSF) to a place in the body where it can be absorbed.

How is hydrocephalus treated?

Some forms of hydrocephalus require no specific treatment or are temporary and do not require treatment on a long-term basis. However, most forms do require treatment and this is usually surgical.

Drugs have been used for many years but they may have unpleasant side effects and are not often successful.

Shunts

The usual treatment is to insert a shunt – a tube-like device which controls the pressure by draining excess CSF, preventing the condition from worsening. Symptoms caused by raised pressure usually improve but other problems of brain damage may remain.

Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy

An alternative treatment is endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV), an operation where a small hole is made in the floor of the ventricle using an endoscope to divert the flow of CSF so that it can be absorbed in the usual way. Very occasionally, an ETV is combined with removal of some choroid plexus (tissue which produces CSF) in order to reduce the amount of CSF produced.

This treatment, if successful, avoids the need for a shunt. However, not all types of hydrocephalus can be treated by this method and it is not available in all neurosurgical units.

Hydrocephalus and seizures

Some children and adults with hydrocephalus will develop seizures. For information on epilepsy and treatment see the Epilepsy action web site: www.epilepsy.org.uk

 
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