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Hydrocephalus

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Hydrocephalus is when excess cerebrospinal fluid accumulates in the skull.  The excess liquid compresses the brain and it’s blood vessels.  In the new born, where the size of the cranian is not set yet, the head size enlargens.  This condition may become fatal in both adults and infants.  It may be a congenital disorder.  However, it doesn’t have to be.  One indication of hydrocephalus is when the pupil of the patient depresses below the center of the eye.  When a CT or an MRI is performed there may be an increase in the size of the ventricles of the brain; or an increase in the size in the area in which the accumulated fluid occurs in the brain.  Surgery to remove the obstructions is not always advisable because surgery may cause more problems.

The treatment usually is inserting a cerebrospinal fluid shunt inside the lateral ventricle of the brain, out the side of the head, down the neck, down the chest to inside the peritoneal cavity.  The fluid being dumped into the peritoneal cavity from the head ends up getting reabsorbed.  One drawback, is that when performed in young adults, the shunt must be lengthened as the patient grows taller.  Another drawback is that there comes about an increased risk of meningitis since the part of the shunt in the skull may become infected.  Another drawback, is that the shunt may become blocked; and the symptoms of hydrocephaly would come back.  All things considered however, the cerebrospinal fluid shunt is the best approach modern medicine currently has for combating hydrocephelus.

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