Jane Colfer: What is Hydrocephalus?

Today I’d like to talk to you all about a condition which is known as Hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus is caused by the build up of fluid in the cavities that can be found deep within the brain. The excess fluid causes the ventricles to grow in size there for adding extra pressure on the brain. Another name for Hydrocephalus is water on the brain.

Hydrocephalus can happen to anyone at any age. The most common age it is said to occur though is either in infants, adults and people in there 60s. The signs and symptoms of hydrocephalus can differ as a result of the age of the person of which it occurs in. The signs and symptoms of hydrocephalus which occur within an infant are the following: fast growth in the size of its head, bulging or tense soft spot on the top of the head, irritability, vomiting, poor feedin, sleepiness, seizures and much more. The signs and symptoms which can occur in toddlers and older children are the following: headaches, blurred or doubled vision, nausea, vomiting, unstable balance, poor appetite and loads more. Common signs and symptoms of hydrocephalus in young and middle-aged adults are as follows: lethargy, headache, loss in co-ordination or balance, loss in bladder control, urge to urinate frequently and lots of others signs and symptoms.

There are many different types of Hydrocephalus. I myself was born with what is known as congenital hydrocephalus. Other types of hydrocephalus are the following acquired hydrocephalus, normal pressure hydrocephalus, communicating hydrocephalus and non-communicating Hydrocephalus. Ways in which these types of hydrocephalus can be detected tend to vary depending on what one you have been diagnosed with. A ct scan often shows signs of hydrocephalus. A second way to detect if you have Hydrocephalus is by having a lumbar drainage test done, memory tests and observing how you walk. I myself suffer from chronic fatigue from time to time, I also experience moments where I find it hard to concentrate on something for more than a couple of minutes at a time. I also have urinary incontinence and a change in my moods on a daily basis.

Hydrocephalus is said to be treated in many different ways. One of the most common forms of treating hydrocephalus is by the use of a shunt. I had a shunt inserted to my brain when I was only a few days old and 24 years later I still have that same shunt. Most people who have shunts need to have multiple operations throughout there lifetime to have the shunt replaces due to the old one getting blocked. The operation carried out to replace a blocked shunt is said to usually take up to a total of two hours to complete followed by a few days recovery in hospital.An alternative procedure toshunt surgery is an endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV). This procedure involves making a hole in the floor of the brain, allowing the trapped CSF to escape to the surface of the brain where it can be absorbed, instead of inserting a shunt. An ETV is not suitable for everyone. However, it could be a possible treatment option if the build-up of CSF in your brain is the result of a blockage (obstructive hydrocephalus). The CSF will be able to drain through the hole, avoiding the blockage.

During an ETV, a small hole is made in your skull and your neurosurgeon will use an endoscope to look inside the chambers of your brain. An endoscope is a thin, long tube that has a light and a video camera at one end. A small hole will be made inside your brain with the help of the endoscope. After the endoscope has been removed, the wound will be closed using stitches. The procedure takes around one hour. If it is treated early in children that person is said to live a very long and happy life. However if an adult somehow manages to develop hydrocephalus this means that there life expectancy can be shortened especially if it isn’t treated straight away. It can also cause severe disabilities in some people too if left untreated. There is currently no way that hydrocephalus can be prevented in occurring in a persons life. There is also no way it can be fully cured. However it can be stabilised by the use of a shunt through surgery.

That’s all I have time for today I hope this post was helpful in educating on Hydrocephalus

Jane Colfer