Hydrocephalus is the buildup of fluid in the cavities ventricles deep within the brain. The excess fluid increases the size of the ventricles and puts pressure on the brain. Cerebrospinal fluid normally flows through the ventricles and bathes the brain and spinal column. But the pressure of too much cerebrospinal fluid associated with hydrocephalus can damage brain tissues and cause a range of impairments in brain function.
Hydrocephalus (Water on the Brain)
Normal pressure hydrocephalus NPH is a brain disorder in which excess cerebrospinal fluid CSF accumulates in the brain's ventricles, causing thinking and reasoning problems, difficulty walking, and loss of bladder control. Normal pressure hydrocephalus is called "normal pressure" because despite the excess fluid, CSF pressure as measured during a spinal tap is often normal. As brain ventricles enlarge with the excess CSF, they can disrupt and damage nearby brain tissue, leading to difficulty walking, problems with thinking and reasoning, and loss of bladder control. Normal pressure hydrocephalus can sometimes be treated with surgical insertion of a shunt, a long, thin tube that drains excess CSF from the brain to the abdomen. Surgery is most likely to help correct difficulties walking, but thinking changes and loss of bladder control are less likely to improve.
Hydrocephalus is a condition, not a disease. It can develop for a variety of reasons, sometimes as part of another condition. Congenital hydrocephalus is now often diagnosed before birth through routine ultrasound. Acquired hydrocephalus develops after birth as a result of neurological conditions such as head trauma, brain tumor, cyst, intraventricular hemorrhage or infection of the central nervous system. Normal pressure hydrocephalus occurs in older adults when the ventricles of the brain are enlarged, but there is little or no increase in the pressure within the ventricles.