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Surgery 6th year, Tutorial (Dr. Khalid Shokor Mahmood)
Dr. Khalid Shokor Mahmood NeurosurgeonJanuary, 2012
Definition Hydrocephalus is an abnormal enlargement of the ventricles due to an excessive accumulation of CSF resulting from a disturbance of its flow, absorption or, uncommonly, secretion. The normal volume of CSF is 140 ml. CSF is produced by the choroid plexus in the ventricles at a rate of about 500 ml in 24 hours.
CSF circulation The CSF flows from the lateral ventricles through the foramen of Monro into the 3rd ventricle, via the aqueduct of Sylvius into the 4th ventricle and then through the foramina of Magendie and Luschka into the subarachnoid space and basal cisterns. It flows over the cerebral hemispheres and is largely absorbed by the arachnoid villi of the dural sinuses.
Classification Obstructive hydrocephalus: when there is an obstruction to the flow of CSF through the ventricular system. Communicating hydrocephalus: when there is no obstruction to the flow of CSF within the ventricular system but the hydrocephalus is due either to obstruction to CSF flow outside the ventricular system or to failure of absorption of CSF by the arachnoid granulations.
Causes1 Obstructive hydrocephalus: lateral ventricle : thalamic glioma 3rd ventricule: gliomas or colloid cyst of the 3rd ventricle aqueduct of Sylvius: primary stenosis or secondary to a tumour 4th ventricular: posterior fossa tumour: medulloblastoma, ependymoma, acoustic neuroma.2 Communicating hydrocephalus: obstruction to flow of CSF through the basal cisterns failure of absorption of CSF The most common causes of communicating hydrocephalus are infection (especially bacterial and tuberculous) and subarachnoid haemorrhage (either spontaneous, traumatic or postoperative).
Presenting featuresHydrocephalus in infants 3-4 per 1000 births ( congenital abnormalities). The most common congenital cause is stenosis of the aqueduct of Sylvius. This is a major cause of hydrocephalus in children with spina bifida and myelomeningocele who also have a Chiari malformation. Congenital atresia of the foramen of Luschka and Magendie (Dandy–Walker cyst) is a rare cause. The acquired forms of hydrocephalus occur most frequently after intracranial bleeding, particularly in premature infants, in meningitis and because of tumours.
Hydrocephalus in infantsThe major clinical features in infants are: failure to thrive increased skull circumference tense anterior fontanelle ‘cracked pot’ sound on skull percussion transillumination of cranial cavity with strong light when severe, impaired conscious level and vomiting ‘setting sun’ appearance due to lid retraction and impaired upward gaze from 3rd ventricular pressure on the midbrain tectum thin scalp with dilated veins.
Adult hydrocephalus (either acute or gradual)1. Acute-onset adult hydrocephalus This type of presentation occurs particularly in patients with tumours causing obstructive hydrocephalus. The major presenting features are due to the signs and symptoms of raised ICP as described earlier: headache vomiting papilloedema deterioration of conscious state. Upgaze will often be impaired due to pressure of the dilated 3rd ventricle on the superior colliculus of the tectum.
Adult hydrocephalus2. Gradual-onset adult hydrocephalus The symptoms of raised intracranial pressure are only very gradually progressive and late diagnosis is common. Early features in the adolescent involve deteriorating school performance as a result of headaches, failing mental function, memory loss and behavioural disturbances. Endocrine abnormalities Progressive visual failure will occur, secondary to papilloedema and optic atrophy. In elderly patients a chronic form of hydrocephalus is called ‘normal-pressure hydrocephalus’
Radiological investigation If the lateral ventricles and 3rd ventricle are all very dilated, and the 4th ventricle is small, it is likely that the obstruction is at the level of the aqueduct of Sylvius. An enhanced CT scan or MRI will help determine the cause, as it will better define the presence of an obstructing tumour. In a communicating hydrocephalus all the ventricles are dilated. CT scan Magnetic resonance imaging. Ultrasonography. Plain skull X-ray.
Treatment In general, the treatment of hydrocephalus is a CSF shunt or a 3rd ventriculostomy. If there has been rapid neurological deterioration this will need to be performed as an emergency. If the hydrocephalus is due to an obstructing tumour that is surgically accessible, resection of the mass may lead to resolution of the hydrocephalus and a shunt might not be necessary.
Treatment CSF shunt The usual method of CSF diversion is a ventriculoperitoneal shunt, in which a catheter is placed into the lateral ventricle and is connected to a subcutaneous unidirectional pressure-regulated valve which is attached to a catheter threaded subcutaneously down to the abdomen and inserted into the peritoneal cavity. Modern valves can have their draining pressures adjusted percutaneously and shunts are being developed allowing intracranial pressure to be monitored percutaneously.
Treatment Postoperative care The postoperative management is similar for any intracranial procedure. Initially the patient is nursed flat, to avoid rapid decompression of the ventricular system. Deterioration of neurological state or failure to improve will require an urgent CT scan to confirm that the catheter has been placed accurately into the ventricular system and to exclude the possibility of intracranial complications such as intracerebral haematoma.
Complications of ventriculoperitoneal shuntThe major possible complications are:• infection of the shunt• obstruction of the shunt• intracranial haemorrhage.
Treatment Third ventriculostomy Using an endoscopic technique, a ventriculoscope is introduced into the lateral ventricle via a frontal burr hole and advanced through the foramen of Monro. The floor of the 3rd ventricle just anterior to the mamillary bodies is then fenestrated, allowing CSF to bypass any obstruction in the CSF pathway and be reabsorbed by the arachnoid villi.
Arrested hydrocephalus This is a state of chronic hydrocephalus in which the CSF pressure has returned to normal and there is no pressure gradient between the cerebral ventricles and brain parenchyma. It is uncommon and is most likely to occur in communicating hydrocephalus. The patients, often children and adolescents, should be followed carefully. If there is any deterioration of those parameters a shunt will be necessary.
Normal-pressure hydrocephalusThe gradually progressive classic clinical ‘triad’ consists of: 1 Dementia. 2 Ataxia. 3 Incontinence. The syndrome is progressive and the disturbance of gait, which may be the first and most prominent symptom, is more of an apraxia than a true gait ataxia.