Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus
Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH) is the accumulation of excess spinal fluid in the ventricles of the brain. It is most often seen in patients older than 60 years. It differs from other types of hydrocephalus that develop in infants or children in which the fluid is often under increased pressure. The treatment of hydrocephalus is a shunt (tube) to drain the excess fluid from the brain into the abdomen where it is reabsorbed. Here at MD West ONE, we have Neurosurgery and Spine Specialists that can properly diagnose any spinal or neurological issues.
Signs and Symptoms
- Gait Difficulties: This can be mild imbalance to a severely impaired ability to walk. Many patients will walk with their feet wide-based and take slow steps. This often is the first symptom and can be confused with other causes of gait difficulties such as Parkinson’s Disease or orthopedic or spine problems.
- Mild Dementia: Typically this is short-term memory loss, loss of interest in activities. Dementia of NPH does not include thought disorders or hallucinations as are seen with other dementias. A neurologist or geriatric specialist may need to help determine the cause of dementia.
- Impaired bladder control: Usually bladder urgency and frequency, sometimes incontinence (loss of urine).
How is normal pressure hydrocephalus diagnosed?
Your provider will perform a medical history, physical exam, and review your symptoms carefully. Your provider may also ask for further testing:
- Advanced Imaging: CT scan or an MRI
- Cerebrospinal Fluid Test (spinal tap): a small sample of cerebrospinal fluid is retrieved
- Gait Analysis: provider will watch you walk a certain distance
- Neuropsychological testing: your memory, concentration, and problem-solving will be tested
How is normal pressure hydrocephalus treated?
There is currently no cure for NPH, our Neurosurgeons at MD West ONE are trained to perform shunt surgery. During this procedure, a drainage system (shunt) is inserted into one of the brain's ventricles and the other end is tunneled under the skin to a different part of your body (lower abdomen) to drain excess cerebrospinal fluid.
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