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Over the course of the week, our blog has been discussing hydrocephalus, a very serious condition that can affect both newborns and babies, and have very serious consequences if left untreated.
In today’s post, we’ll continue our discussion by examining some of the diagnostic tools available to physicians, as well as the procedures they can use to help treat hydrocephalus.
How do physicians go about diagnosing hydrocephalus?
If a baby is showing any of the symptoms we discussed in our previous post, it’s advisable to see a physician as soon as possible. In addition to taking a complete medical history and performing an exam, the physician will likely order diagnostic imagining such as an MRI, CT or ultrasound to get a clear picture.
What happens if a baby does have hydrocephalus?
If a baby is diagnosed with hydrocephalus, there are essentially two medical procedures that can be undertaken to treat it: a shunt procedure or a ventriculostomy.
What is a shunt procedure?
In a shunt procedure, a catheter will essentially be surgically implanted with one end being placed into a ventricle in the brain and the other end being placed into an area where the excess cerebral spinal fluid can drain safely and be absorbed in the bloodstream (i.e., the abdominal cavity, around the lungs, the chambers of the heart, etc.).
The draining of the CSF is thereafter regulated by a value located within the shunt system.
How effective are shunt procedures?
While shunt procedures have long been recognized as an effective treatment for hydrocephalus, they are not without complications. Indeed, statistics show that up to 30 percent of shunt systems will stop working within the first year of implantation and that about 5 percent will stop working with each passing year. This, of course, will necessitate the need for additional surgery.
What is a ventriculostomy?
In an endoscopic third ventriculostomy, a surgeon will use small instruments and a camera to create a tiny opening in the bottom of the brain’s third ventricle. This tiny opening serves as a new evacuation route for the CSF, allowing it to drain safely into the bloodstream and avoid the obstructions otherwise responsible for the diagnosis of hydrocephalus.
How effective are ventriculostomies?
Ventriculostomies are rapidly becoming the procedure of choice for treating hydrocephalus for babies older than six months of age. Indeed, statistics show that the success rate for the minimally invasive procedure is close to 90 percent.
Contact a skilled legal professional as soon as possible if you would like to learn more about your options as they relate to birth injuries or other forms of medical negligence.
Source: KidsHealth, “Hydrocephalus,” Accessed Feb. 23, 2015