These Two Procedures Could Change The Way Doctors Treat Hydrocephalus

A new study comparing two different treatments demonstrates that both could be effective in treating hydrocephalus. This condition is characterized by a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid inside the brain. In older people, it can result in increased pressure within the skull, double vision, poor balance, headaches, incontinence, and changes in personality. In babies, the head may expand in size rapidly, because the skull bones are not yet fully fused together. The condition can be caused by a birth defect or can acquired later in life due to a variety of different causes. To learn more about hydrocephalus, click here.

One of the treatments tested involves the installation of a shunt system.  The shunt is a commonly used surgical solution to hydrocephalus. While the study showed that the shunt is effective for treatment, the shunt system often comes with some significant complications and may need to be replaced periodically.

The other procedure involved endoscopic surgery. Generally, the study found that there were less likely to be complications with this kind of treatment. With endoscopic treatment, the failures tended to happen more predictably, within the first six months after surgery. Additionally, the study found that these failures were much safer than those involved with the shunt.
Complications aside, the study found that both treatments were effective in restoring normal brain function. The study used 100 infants, with 51 assigned endoscopic surgery and remainder assigned the shunt system surgery. Cognitive testing showed that there were no significant differences in brain function between to two different treatments. While a coating of fluid is normal in the brain, the increased fluid pressure acts as a suppressor of brain growth in hydrocephalus. This can deform the bones of the skull in infants, inhibit cognitive development, and lead to death in severe cases.

In the developing world, the condition is normally caused by infection such as meningitis. With hundreds of thousands of cases occurring worldwide on a yearly basis, experts estimate that nearly half of them are caused by infections. So far the only solutions are the surgical treatments tested in the study. Read more about this in Health News and Information.

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