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Adult hydrocephalus


Hydrocephalus is a neurological disease. It is manifested by the increase in the volume of cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. There are several types of hydrocephalus: normal pressure hydrocephalus, which is a particular form of chronic hydrocephalus in adults, and obstructive hydrocephalus, which is secondary to an obstruction of the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, caused by, amongst other things, brain tumors or subarachnoid hemorrhage.


In the case of rapid constitution hydrocephalus, the cavities of the brain will expand, and the skull being unstretchable, it can result in the compression of the tissue located in the skull and subsequently neurological damage. The clinical consequences of the latter are the following:
  • headache that increases during coughing and while lying down;
  • nausea or vomiting
  • Double vision.

Signs of normal pressure hydrocephalus in adults are:
  • a balance disorder when walking;
  • mental disorders, gradually leading to dementia;
  • urinary and fecal incontinence.


In case of clinical suspicion, hydrocephalus is detected through brain imaging, CT scan or MRI, which has become the gold standard for this type of pathology. This examination will reveal the expansion of the cerebral ventricles.


In case of normal pressure hydrocephalus, a lumbar puncture via a shot in the back allows the removal of cerebrospinal fluid in the spinal cord. This will help improving symptoms. Punctures may be repeated or the establishment of an external ventricular shunt to drain excess liquid can help chronically. The treatment of acute hydrocephalus is neurosurgery. The surgeon will make an emergency external ventricular bypass.