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+ Hydrocephalus...


  What Is Hydrocephalus?

Hydrocephalus comes from the Greek: "hydro" means water, "cephalus" means head. Hydrocephalus is an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) within cavities called ventricles inside the brain. CSF is produced in the ventricles, circulates through the ventricular system and is absorbed into the bloodstream. CSF is in constant circulation and has many important functions.

It surrounds the brain and spinal cord and acts as a protective cushion against injury. CSF contains nutrients and proteins necessary for the nourishment and normal function of the brain. It also carries waste products away from surrounding tissues. Hydrocephalus occurs when there is an imbalance between the amount of CSF that is produced and the rate at which it is absorbed. As the CSF builds up, it causes the ventricles to enlarge and the pressure inside the head to increase.

Hydrocephalus that is congenital (present at birth) is thought to be caused by a complex interaction of environmental and perhaps genetic factors. Aqueductal stenosis and spina bifida are two examples. Acquired hydrocephalus may result from intraventricular hemorrhage, meningitis, head trauma, tumors and cysts. Hydrocephalus is believed to occur in about 2 out of 1,000 births. The incidences of adult-onset hydrocephalus and acquired hydrocephalus are not known.

Treatment Methods...

There is no known way to prevent or cure hydrocephalus. The most effective treatment is surgical insertion of a shunt. Learn more about shunts. Endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) is growing in popularity as an alternative treatment method for hydrocephalus. Learn more about third ventriculostomy.

About The Brain...

The brain is the nerve center and is by far the most complex organ in the human body. The primary function of the brain is to control the body. It regulates breathing and circulation, and controls the functions of the body's vital organs. The brain is also responsible for analyzing and remembering everything that you see, touch, hear, taste, and smell. For instance, when you reach down to touch a flower, the nerves in your fingertips send an impulse to the parietal lobe of your brain, which identifies the sensation.

To communicate effectively with neurosurgeons, patients who have hydrocephalus need to become familiar with the basic structures of the brain. Your neurosurgeon will talk about the various structures of the brain, and by being familiar with their location and functions, you will better understand what she is talking about. Learning about some of the terms and functions of the brain will allow you to more actively participate in your care. After some experience with the condition, you will find yourself talking about ventricles, hemispheres, lobes, the cerebellum, cranial nerves, and possibly other parts of the brain you didn't know existed.

The brain is divided into sections that control different bodily functions. The effect that hydrocephalus has on an area of the body greatly depends on where the blockage or abnormal accumulation of CSF is located. If there is a build-up of fluid near the frontal lobes of the brain, you could experience difficulty with motor skills, since the frontal lobe houses the motor cortex. Likewise, if there is a arachnoidal cyst that is placing pressure on the occipital lobe, your vision might be affected.

Responses on one side of the brain control actions on the opposite side of the body. For example, if you want to move your right arm, a signal is sent to the motor cortex of your left frontal lobe. This signal is then sent to the muscles of your arm to perform and control the movement. If there is a cyst or tumor placing pressure on the right side of the brain, it will affect the functions of the left side of the body controlled by the area where the cyst or tumor is located.

This article gives you an overview of the structures of the brain and discusses some of their functions. It first looks at the outermost structures of the brain, the meninges, then at the middle of the brain where the ventricles are located, and finally moves inside to the core of the brain, the brain stem.