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What is Hydrocephalus?

Our brain has fluid in pockets called ventricles. This fluid helps to carry nutrients to the brain and remove wastes as well. Sometimes, there is an accumulation of fluid in the ventricles which puts pressure on the brain tissues. This is a dangerous condition called hydrocephalus.

To remove the excess fluid, a device called Ventriculoperitoneal shunt is used. This device diverts the fluid from the brain and restores normal flow.

What causes Hydrocephalus?

Many children are born with hydrocephalus. Some of the reasons for build up of the fluid are:

  • excess production of the fluid

  • blockages in the brain preventing proper flow of the fluid or

  • improper absorption of the fluid by the blood vessels

Symptoms / when to call your doctor

There are many symptoms which point to hydrocephalus. The most obvious ones are:

  • Seizures

  • Memory loss

  • Head which is large in size

  • Headaches

  • Problems in coordination

Why you should see a doctor?

Hydrocephalus once identified should be treated immediately. This is a fatal condition and symptoms get worse as time progresses.

How is it diagnosed?

Imaging tests such as ultrasound, CT scans and MRIs are used to diagnose hydrocephalus.

Dietary Restrictions

There are no dietary restrictions as such for this procedure. However, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet aids in quick recovery.

Treatment for Hydrocephalus

Currently, the most widely used procedure to treat hydrocephalus is using a ventriculoperitoneal shunt.

Surgery

In this procedure, two catheters are placed to drain excess fluid from the ventricles. The entire procedure takes a short time to complete.

Flow of the procedure:

  • Patient is given general anaesthesia for the procedure

  • A small incision is made near the ear and a hole is drilled in the skull

  • Two catheters are placed at each of these openings

  • The catheter placed at the ear drains the fluid into the abdominal cavity which is absorbed

  • The incisions and the hole in the skull are closed

Recovery Time and Dietary Advice:

  • You’ll need to stay in the hospital for a week after the surgery

  • Complete recovery can take about 6 weeks

Risks involved in the treatment:

Though short, this is a brain surgery and hence, there are risks involved in the procedure. Some of them are:

  • Infection

  • Allergic reaction to the anaesthesia

  • Damage to the brain

  • Bleeding or blood clots

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