Hydrocephalus and CSF disorders

Our neurosurgery team provide comprehensive treatment for patients with hydrocephalus.

This happens when the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) which surrounds the brain builds up, putting pressure on the brain and leading to damage. This can cause a wide range of symptoms, including headache, blurred vision, sickness and difficulty walking.

There are three main types of hydrocephalus:

  • congenital hydrocephalus – which is present at birth and can cause permanent brain damage and long-term mental and physical disabilities
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  • acquired hydrocephalus – which develops after birth, usually as a result of a serious head injury or following a medical condition such as a brain tumour
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  • normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) – a rare illness which usually only develops in people aged over 50. Although it can develop after an injury or a stroke, most of the time the cause is unknown.

Patients who have been referred to the neurosurgery department with suspected hydrocephalus will usually be given an MRI or CT scan so that their consultant can look at their brain in greater detail. As NPH has similar symptoms to a range of other conditions, further tests may need to be carried out before the consultant can make a diagnosis.

Hydrocephalus is usually treated with surgery. A thin tube, called a shunt, will be implanted into the brain to drain the excess CSF into other parts of the body, where it will be absorbed into the blood stream. The procedure is carried out under general anaesthetic and usually takes around one to two hours.

Before you have the operation, your neurosurgeon will explain the procedure fully and will discuss any follow up care you may need. You will also be able to ask any questions and discuss any concerns you may have with one of our specialist nurses.

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