Hydrocephalus treatment is needed for hydrocephalus, a medical condition that happens when fluid accumulates in the skull, resulting in brain swelling. The term hydrocephalus means “water in the brain.” The fluid accumulation can cause brain damage, which can result in physical, developmental and intellectual problems. Treatment is vital to avert severe health complications.
Hydrocephalus typically occurs in children and adults over age 60, but young adults are not exempted. According to estimates from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), one or two out of every 1000 babies are delivered with hydrocephalus.
Currently, there is no verifiable method of curing and preventing the condition, and the only hydrocephalus treatment option available requires brain surgery. Early detection and prompt treatment can give hydrocephalus patients a promising future. With research, there are advancements in knowledge that show that a cure may be imminent. Technological advancements and diagnostic and treatment procedures are assisting more hydrocephalus patients in leading a full and active life.
Hydrocephalus treatment options
Three methods of surgical procedures are currently used in treating hydrocephalus. They include:
This is the most popular treatment for hydrocephalus and the most common treatment handled by pediatric neurosurgeons in the US. The procedure involves the surgical implantation of an appliance called a shunt.
The shunt is a flexible tube inserted into the ventricular system of the brain to redirect the flow of CSF into other areas of the body, usually the abdominal cavity, where it would be absorbed. The shunt has a valve in it to maintain the CSF at normal pressure inside the ventricles.
Endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV)
The second hydrocephalus treatment option is a surgical procedure known as endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV). In the ETV treatment, an endoscope is used to create an incision in the membrane on the floor of the third ventricle to make a pathway for CSF to pass between the brain cavities. This technique is a vital alternative to the shunt system in cases of obstructive hydrocephalus and may be applicable for other situations too.
Endoscopic third ventriculostomy with choroid plexus cauterization (ETV/CPC)
This procedure adds choroid plexus cauterization to the ETV procedure to treat hydrocephalus in kids. The neurosurgeon will use an appliance to cauterize or burn the tissue from the choroid plexus. The choroid plexus is an array of vessels in the brain ventricles that produce the cerebrospinal fluid.
The success rate of ETV or ETV/CPC is based on patient factors such as age, the cause of the condition and if scarring is present in the fluid space beneath the floor of the third ventricle. In some cases, the rate of success may be as high as 90 percent. However, for others, ETV with CPC may not be advisable because of the low rate of success. The neurosurgeon will be able to advise you on the possible rate of success with your particular condition before performing the operation.
Parents need to understand that ETV does not provide a permanent solution to hydrocephalus. It is vital to have a detailed discussion with the physician regarding the chances of success of hydrocephalus treatment.
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