Hydrocephalus and Shunt Surgery

Hydrocephalus is a build up of fluid in the brain caused by cysts, tumours or inflammation blocking the cerebrospinal fluid that flows across the brain and spinal cord. The increased pressure from the excess fluid can damage the brain.


In adults, hydrocephalus can cause some or all of the following symptoms:

  • headaches and nausea
  • problems with sight
  • weak legs and motor control disturbance
  • seizures
  • dizziness
  • forgetfulness
  • affected speech
  • bladder control problems.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options

To diagnose hydocephalus, Dr Tollesson will evaluate your medical history, symptoms, and do a physical and neurological examination. Diagnostic testing is imperative, such as, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.  A patient may need ICP monitoring  overnight to determine cerebral spinal fluid pressure.

A ventricular peritoneal (VP) shunt might need to be inserted to divert excess fluid to another part of the body and reduce the pressure in the brain. The VP shunt is inserted under general anaesthesia. The surgeon makes a small cut behind the ear. A small hole is drilled in the skull and catheters are inserted to drain excess fluid away from the brain and into the abdomen where it is absorbed.


Recovery from hydrocephalus differs with each patient. Hydrocephalus is an ongoing condition and will need regular follow-up consultations.


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