*DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional, nor do I pretend to be. This blog contains information in my own words to help educate my family and friends on my son's condition. For medical advice on hydrocephalus, please seek a neurosurgeon. For more information on hydrocephalus you can explore The Hydrocephalus Association.
What is hydrocephalus? " Hydrocephalus is an abnormal accumulation of fluid—cerebrospinal
fluid, or CSF—within cavities called ventricles inside the brain." Also know at "water head" or "water on the brain". It is commonly treated by the surgical placement of a shunt. (A medical device consisting of 3 parts: the ventricular catheter, a small tube inserted through the brain into one of the ventricles; the reservoir and valve, a hard, small piece placed under the skin on the outside of the skull where the valve regulates the drainage of CSF based on inter-cranial pressure and where neurosurgeons can "tap" the shunt to check the flow of CSF and test for infection; last is the drainage catheter (a peritoneal catheter in James David's case), the longer catheter that drains the CSF from the valve and redirects it to another part of the body where is is reabsorbed. However, shunts are not a "cure", but a mere treatment for hydrocephalus. Shunts can malfunction, and may possibly need to be revised. Another, newer treatment for hydrocephalus is an Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy (ETV). This is where neurosurgeons place a hole into the bottom of the third ventricle to all CSF to communicate more freely between the ventricles. This as well is not a "cure" for hydrocephalus, and can also fail and need to be revised when the hole in the ventricle grows back together.
Our story: We were aware of James David's hydrocephalus (as his other medical conditions) before he was born. We were told there was almost a 100% chance he would need to be shunted after birth. The days following his birth his head circumference continued to grow...
James David's known shunt malfunction symptoms:
- Swollen spinal closure
- Head Banging
- And sometimes, but not always, Swollen, Full fontanel.