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Adult Hydrocephalus

Adult Hydrocephalus - What it is

​Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is produced by and flows through the brain and spinal cord. It protects and provides nutrients to the brain and spinal cord. CSF is absorbed into the bloodstream.

Hydrocephalus is a condition where there is excessive CSF in the brain. When the production and absorption of CSF
are affected, the cavities (ventricles) of the brain enlarge, increasing brain pressure (Figure 1).

The cause of hydrocephalus is usually unknown but could develop due to:

  • Injury or trauma to the head or brain
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Tumour

Figure 1

Comparison between normal ventricles and enlarged ventricles

Adult Hydrocephalus - Symptoms

  • Headache
  • Blurred/double vision
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Problems with thinking and memory
  • Balancing and/or walking issues
  • Inability to control bladder

Adult Hydrocephalus - How to prevent?

Adult Hydrocephalus - Causes and Risk Factors

Adult Hydrocephalus - Diagnosis

​An examination and a Computed Tomography (CT) or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan are needed to confirm the diagnosis.

Adult Hydrocephalus - Treatments

​Treatment depends mostly on the type of hydrocephalus and the patient's condition.

External Ventricular Drain (EVD)
A drain is temporarily inserted to remove excess CSF and reduce brain pressure.

Shunt
A permanent tube (shunt) may be inserted to direct CSF from the brain to other parts of the body like the abdomen for absorption (Figure 2).

Though uncommon, shunt complications include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Stroke
  • Shunt malfunction
  • Flow obstruction
  • Over or under-draining of CSF

Generally, patients are on long-term monitoring but can go about their daily activities.

Figure 2

A shunt inserted to direct CSF from the brain to the abdomen

Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy (ETV)
Procedure to open a path in the brain cavities for CSF to flow.

Adult Hydrocephalus - Preparing for surgery

Adult Hydrocephalus - Post-surgery care

Adult Hydrocephalus - Other Information

​Download the Adult Hydrocephalus brochure

The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth
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