Obstructive Hydrocephalus: fluid buildup in brain (aka water on the brain). Can cause brain damage and lead to death.
Hydrocephalus is commonly referred to as water on the brain (in Greek "hydro" means water and "cephalus" means head). Hydrocephalus is a condition in which there is an excessive accumulation of fluid within the skull. This fluid is not actual water; rather it's cerebrospinal fluid. The abnormal buildup of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) can lead to pressure on the brain.
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is a clear fluid that surrounds the spinal cord and brain. A few of the functions of CSF include acting as a shock absorber, transporting nutrients, removal of waste, and regulating pressure in the brain. The body continuously produces and absorbs CSF; therefore anything that affects either of these can lead to an imbalance. Also, anything that interrupts the normal flow of CSF can create its buildup and the resulting pressure on the brain.
An excess of pressure on the brain is potentially harmful; thus hydrocephalus can cause permanent brain damage and even death. However, with appropriate treatment, most patients are able to lead normal lives with few limitations.
Obstructive hydrocephalus can occur in patients of any age from infants to the elderly. Obstructive hydrocephalus is also known as non-communicating hydrocephalus. Here there's a blockage that prevents the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) between certain structures (ventricles) in the brain.
Obstructive hydrocephalus can be the result of any condition that blocks the flow of cerebrospinal fluid including:
Symptoms of hydrocephalus depend on: the cause of the cerebrospinal fluid buildup, the extent of any brain damage, and the patient's age.
Symptoms common in most patients (regardless of cause or age) may include:
A physician may perform following to diagnosis obstructive hydrocephalus:
Without treatment, symptoms often continue to get worse and can lead to death. Surgical treatment improves symptoms in many patients; however, not all patients see improvement in their symptoms. There is no way to accurately predict which patients will improve with surgery, although those with minimal symptoms generally have the best outcomes. If a patient's symptoms improve with cerebral spinal fluid drainage, then surgery is generally recommended.
Removal of the obstruction (e.g., brain tumor or blot clot) causing the accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).
Ventricular shunt surgery: The goal of this procedure is to enable the excess CSF to flow out of the ventricle into another region of the body where it can be absorbed. A shunt (a thin, soft tube) is placed in the ventricle to accomplish this. The shunt has one-way valve that regulates the CSF flow.
Endoscopic third ventriculostomy: This is a minimally invasive procedure where the surgeon creates new pathway through which CSF can flow by making a small hole in bottom of a ventricle.