Hydrocephalus

Carrie Shulman, MD -  - Minimally Invasive Neurosurgeon

The Florida Center For Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery

Carrie Shulman, MD

Minimally Invasive Neurosurgeon located in Prestige Place, Largo, FL

Hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in your brain, can occur at any age, but it’s more common in infants and senior adults. At any age, hydrocephalus is a serious problem that can lead to brain damage. Dr. Carrie Shulman at The Florida Center for Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery specializes in neurosurgery, including a minimally invasive procedure that can bypass the buildup of fluid. At the first sign of hydrocephalus, call their office in Largo, Florida, or book an appointment online.

Hydrocephalus Q & A

What is hydrocephalus?

Hydrocephalus occurs when cerebrospinal fluid builds up deep within the brain. Cerebrospinal fluid surrounds your brain and spinal cord. Normally, it flows through special cavities in your brain called ventricles, where it serves three functions:

  • Acts as a shock absorber for your brain and spinal cord
  • Delivers nutrients to the brain and carries waste away
  • Regulates changes in pressure within your brain

When the fluid accumulates, it can damage brain tissue and cause severe impairments in brain function.

What causes hydrocephalus?

Hydrocephalus develops due to an imbalance between the amount of cerebrospinal fluid produced and the amount absorbed back into the bloodstream.

The problem most often happens when the normal flow is blocked, preventing fluid from leaving a ventricle. It can also occur if blood vessels don’t absorb enough fluid, or more rarely, when cerebrospinal fluid is produced more quickly than it’s absorbed.

Factors that increase the risk of hydrocephalus include:

Newborns:

  • Bleeding within ventricles
  • Infection causing inflammation in the brain
  • Abnormal development of the central nervous system

Adults:

  • Infections such as bacterial meningitis or mumps
  • Bleeding in the brain from a stroke
  • Lesions or tumors of the brain or spinal cord
  • Traumatic head injury

What are the symptoms of hydrocephalus?

In infants, you’ll see an abnormally large head, a bulging soft spot, or prominent scalp veins.

The primary symptoms are:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsiness

Other symptoms that may develop include:

  • Fever
  • Irritability
  • Seizures
  • Unstable balance
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Loss of coordination
  • Poor appetite

When hydrocephalus occurs in older adults, their symptoms may seem like dementia. They may have a shuffling gait, memory loss, and bladder control problems.

How is hydrocephalus treated?

The treatment for hydrocephalus depends on its underlying cause. It may be treated by removing the obstruction, or by diverting cerebrospinal fluid to another location by inserting a shunt. For example, the shunt might carry fluid from the brain into your abdominal cavity.

Dr. Shulman may also consider a minimally invasive procedure called an endoscopic third ventriculostomy. Using a tiny camera inside a thin tube — an endoscope — Dr. Shulman can examine the ventricles and determine where to create a new pathway for the fluid to flow through surrounding ventricles.

If you develop symptoms of hydrocephalus, call The Florida Center for Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery, or use the online booking tool to schedule an appointment.

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