is a chronic, neurological condition characterised by an excess build-up of fluid in the brain.
Hydrocephalus means ‘water on the brain’ and can be present for a number of different reasons. The condition cannot be cured but it can be treated. The most common treatment is the insertion of a VP shunt, a medical device designed to drain excess fluid from the brain to another part of the body. Unfortunately, shunts are the most common to fail medical device. Read more about the different types of hydrocephalus below.
Hydrocephalus can affect your life in many ways and the degree of impact can vary. It can create medical, financial, and social challenges, and might negatively alter your ability to live independently.
By learning more about ongoing management, you’ll feel more in control and be able to make informed decisions regarding your lifestyle and medical care.
1 IN 800
One in every 800 Australian children are born with hydrocephalus each year.
50% OF SHUNTS FAIL
50% of shunts in the paediatric population fail within two years of placement.
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The HSA receive no government funding. The HSA remain operational through the support of fundraisers and donations.
TYPES AND CAUSES
TYPES OF HYDROCEPHALUS EXPLAINED:
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Hydrocephalus that has been present since birth is referred to as congenital hydrocephalus. The causes are still being studied but are thought to be caused by a complex interaction of genetic and environmental factors during fetal development. There are likely many genes that can cause hydrocephalus or be a risk factor for increasing the likelihood of developing hydrocephalus.
There are also many conditions that may result in congenital hydrocephalus such as aqueductal stenosis, chiari malformation, spina bifida, Dandy Walker syndrome, neural tube defects & arachnoid cysts. There are occasions where hydrocephalus is diagnosed prior to the diagnosis of an underlying medical condition.
1 in 800 babies are born with hydrocephalus every year in Australia making congenital hydrocephalus the most common type in the country.
This type of hydrocephalus develops after birth through to adulthood and is often a result of infection, haemorrhage, trauma to the head or as a result of a cyst or tumour developing.
For instance, trauma to the head can affect the brain’s tissues, nerves, or blood vessels and can result in inflammation and blockages to CSF flow. CSF absorption channels may also be blocked by scarred membranes or by blood cells.
This type of hydrocephalus occurs when the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is blocked after it exits the ventricles.It is referred to as ‘communicating’ because the CSF is able to flow between the ventricles.
The reabsorption of CSF can sometimes be disrupted by blockages or reduced flow of fluid, which can also result in a buildup of CSF in the ventricles.
This type of hydrocephalus is often also referred to as obstructive hydrocephalus. It occurs when there is an interference to the flow of CSF between the ventricles in the brain.
Aqueductal stenosis is one of the most common causes of non-communicating hydrocephalus. This is where there is a narrowing of the aqueduct of Sylvius, a small passage between the third and fourth ventricles in the middle of the brain.
NORMAL PRESSURE HYDROCEPHALUS
Normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) is a form of communicating hydrocephalus and appears to be most commonly developed as the brain ages, however, it can strike people at any age.
It may be the result of a subarachnoid hemorrhage, head trauma, infection, tumor or complications of surgery. However, many people develop normal pressure hydrocephalus even when none of these factors are present for reasons that are unknown. In that case it is called idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus.
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