Hydrocephalus comes from the Greek hydro meaning water, and cephalus meaning head. Hydrocephalus is marked by abnormal and excessive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) into cavities called ventricles inside the brain. As fluid builds up, the pressure causes various symptoms inside the head
There is no known way to prevent or cure hydrocephalus. The most effective treatment is surgical insertion of a shunt. Endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) is growing in popularity as an alternative treatment method to treat hydrocephalus.
Surgical Stunt Placement
The most common method of treating of hydrocephalus is surgical placement of a shunt. A shunt is a flexible tube placed into the ventricular system that diverts the flow of CSF into another region of the body where it can be absorbed, such as the abdominal cavity or the right atrium of the heart. The shunt tube is about 1/8 inch in diameter and is made of a soft and pliable plastic that is well-tolerated by body tissues. Catheters (tubing) and a flow-control mechanism (one-way valve) are components common to all shunts. The valve in the shunt maintains the CSF at normal pressure within the ventricles.
Performed by a neurosurgeon, the procedure is relatively short and uncomplicated. The patient is placed under general anesthesia. Incisions are made in the head and abdominal areas. The shunt tube is passed beneath the skin, in the fatty tissue that lies just below the skin. A small hole is made in the skull and the membranes between the skull and brain are opened. The ventricular end of the shunt is gently passed through the brain into the lateral ventricle. The abdominal end is passed into the abdominal cavity through a small opening in the lining of the abdomen. This is where the CSF will ultimately be absorbed.