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Hydrocephalus In Children

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Hydrocephalus is a condition that is caused by too much cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) inside the ventricles of your child's brain. Ventricles are spaces inside the brain where cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is produced. CSF surrounds the brain and spinal cord. CSF is constantly being made and absorbed by your child's body. It moves through ventricles before it drains out and gets absorbed into his bloodstream. When CSF cannot drain properly, the fluid pressure may cause the ventricles to swell.

Hydrocephalus

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.

Emotional support:

Stay with your child for comfort and support as often as possible while he is in the hospital. Ask another family member or someone close to the family to stay with your child when you cannot be there. Bring items from home that will comfort your child, such as a favorite blanket or toy.

An IV

is a small tube placed in your child's vein that is used to give him medicine or liquids.

Neurologic signs:

These are also called neuro signs, neuro checks, or neuro status. During a neuro check, caregivers see how your child's pupils react to light. They may check his memory and how easily he wakes up. His hand grasp and balance may also be tested. How your child responds to the neuro checks can tell caregivers if his illness or injury has affected his brain.

Medicines:

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help prevent or treat an infection caused by bacteria.
  • Anticonvulsant medicine: Anticonvulsants are given to control your child's seizures.
  • Anti-nausea medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your child's stomach and control vomiting (throwing up). Your child may have an upset stomach after surgery or taking pain medication.
  • Diuretics: This medicine is given to help decrease swelling in your child's brain.

Tests:

  • CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your child's brain. The pictures may show bleeding or excess fluid. Your child may be given a dye before the pictures are taken to help caregivers see the pictures better. Tell the caregiver if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.
  • MRI: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your child's brain. An MRI may show the cause of a blockage, such as narrowing of a passage between ventricles. Your child may be given dye to help the pictures show up better. Tell the caregiver if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not let your child enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the caregiver if your child has any metal in or on his body.
  • Head circumference: This is the distance around your child's head. Caregivers may put a tape measure around your child's head to measure it.
  • Lumbar puncture: This procedure may also be called a spinal tap. A small needle is placed into your child's lower back. Fluid will be removed from around your child's spinal cord and sent to the lab for tests. The test is done to check for bleeding around your child's brain and spinal cord, and for infection. This procedure may also be done to take pressure off your child's brain and spinal cord, or to give medicine. Your child may need to be held in place so that he does not move during the procedure.
  • Intracranial pressure monitoring: This is also called ICP monitoring. A small tube is put through your child's skull. The other end is connected to a monitor. Caregivers use ICP monitoring to keep an ongoing measurement of the pressure inside your child's skull.
  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound uses sound waves to show pictures on a monitor. An ultrasound may be done to show changes in your child's brain or ventricles that may indicate hydrocephalus.

Treatment:

  • Lumbar puncture: This procedure may also be called a spinal tap. A small needle is placed into your child's lower back. Fluid will be removed from around your child's spinal cord and sent to the lab for tests. The test is done to check for bleeding around your child's brain and spinal cord, and for infection. This procedure may also be done to take pressure off your child's brain and spinal cord, or to give medicine. Your child may need to be held in place so that he does not move during the procedure.
  • Shunt: Caregivers put a flexible tube into your child's ventricle. The tube helps drain out CSF into the abdomen or chest.
  • Ventriculostomy: This is also called endoscopic third ventriculostomy or ETV. Your child's caregiver uses a tool called an endoscope to look into your child's brain and ventricles. An endoscope is a thin, flexible tube with a camera at the end. Caregivers make a hole through the third ventricle to allow the CSF to drain and be absorbed by your child's body.

RISKS:

Without treatment, the increased pressure inside the skull may damage the brain and cause lifelong problems. These include retardation, cerebral palsy, seizures, and possibly death. If your child is has shunt surgery, he may get an infection, or the shunt can become blocked or stop working.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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