Hydrocephalus

Overview

Hydrocephalus, a condition where brain spinal fluid pressure is not controlled, comes in many forms.  Traditionally, hydrocephalus is divided into either communicating or non-communicating hydrocephalus.  In non-communicating hydrocephalus, there is a blockage in the normal spinal fluid pathways analogous to a clogged drain in a sink leading to a backup of spinal fluid upstream.  If left untreated, this condition can be very serious and even fatal.  Communicating hydrocephalus involves the situation where brain spinal fluid is either over-produced (this is rare) or not reabsorbed into the bloodstream, resulting in a backup of spinal fluid without the presence of a particular block in the spinal fluid pathway.  Both forms can be serious if left untreated.

UNC is pleased to offer state-of-the-art treatment for patients suffering from hydrocephalus.  Traditional treatments include medical therapy (less common), shunt placement, or endoscopic third ventriculostomy.  The latter is a procedure where a small opening is made with a scope to communicate the inside of the fluid spaces of the brain with the outer surface of the brain where the spinal fluid is reabsorbed.

Treatment of hydrocephalus is an important part of neurosurgery.  We’re very proud that our adult and pediatric programs are dedicated to providing the best possible therapy.