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Acquired Hydrocephalus – Of or relating to a disease, or condition, that is not congenital but develops after birth.

Adult Onset Hydrocephalus – Any hydrocephalus which appears in adulthood from any cause, including head injury, stroke, meningitis, or unknown cause (idiopathic).

Aqueductal Stenosis – A blockage or narrowing of the pathway from the third to the fourth ventricle.

Arachnoid – Resembles a cobweb membrane which covers the brain and spinal cord.

Arachnoid Ville – See Arachnoid Granulations.

Arachnoid Granulations – Protrusions of the arachnoid membrane of the brain. The arachnoid villi (or granulations) are very similar to a one-way valve, as they allow the CSF to drain from the subarachnoid space into the superior sagittal sinus, where it can be reabsorbed into the blood system.

Basal Cisterns – Where the arachnoid extends between the two temporal lobes.

Benign External Hydrocephalus – (Also referred to as External Hydrocephalus.) An accumulation of CSF found on the outside of the brain, which usually presents itself at birth or soon thereafter. The child’s head size will increase, but scans show no internal problems in the ventricles or pathways. The condition usually corrects itself within about 18+ months of age.

Catheter – Small, flexible tube (part of the shunt system) inserted into the body part (i.e. ventricle), which allows the passage of the Cerebrospinal Fluid.

Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) – The clear water-like fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord. The fluid provides nourishment, carries away any debris (such as excess protein cells), and protects us from injury. It is in constant production, circulation and absorption. The body makes almost a pint of CSF daily.

Cerebral Ventricles – Four chambers of the brain that produce the CSF, located near the center of the brain. (There are two lateral ventricles, one on each side of the hemisphere, the fluid then flows into the third ventricle, which is located in the center and onto the fourth ventricle, located in the back, near the skull.) Each chamber produces CSF.

Cisternogram (Cisternography) – Radiographic study of the basal cisterns of the brain after the introduction of an opaque contrast.

Communicating Hydrocephalus – Also referred to as “non-obstructive.” A type of hydrocephalus where the pathways and ventricular system are not obstructed, however, the problem appears to be that of re-absorption of the used CSF.

Congenital Hydrocephalus – A child diagnosed in utero or after birth as having hydrocephalus.

CT Scan (Computed Tomography) – Scan of the head using an X-ray beam, which passes through the head allowing the computer to make a picture of the brain in slices. A CT Scan will show if the ventricles are enlarged or if there is a blockage.

Dementia – Deterioration of intellectual faculties, such as memory, concentration, and judgment. Dementia can also be caused by a head injury, medication, stroke, or another medical condition (such as Alzheimer’s or Hydrocephalus).

Distal (Catheter) – The catheter connected to the shunt valve and directed to the point where the CSF can drain and be re-absorbed (and discarded by the body).

Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy (ETV) – A surgery in which a hole in made in the floor (bottom) of the third ventricle. This allows a new pathway for the CSF to be absorbed (and discarded) by the body.

External Hydrocephalus – See Benign External Hydrocephalus.

External Ventricular Drain (EVD) – This device is somewhat similar to a shunt, although it is on the outside of the body. A catheter is implanted into the brain to drain the excess CSF. The flow can be regulated by either raising or lowering the bag where the fluid is emptied into.

Fixed Shunt – A type of shunt that has a valve preset for high, medium, or low pressure (within the brain). The pressure setting cannot be changed without further surgery.

Fourth Ventricle – See Cerebral Ventricles.

Hydrocephalus - Is an abnormal buildup of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the ventricles of the brain. The fluid is often under increased pressure and can compress and damage the brain. Hydrocephalus can arise in utero, at the time birth, or any time afterward.

ICP Monitor (Intracranial Pressure Monitor) – Intracranial pressure monitoring uses a probe, placed inside the head, which senses the pressure. (Procedure involves hospitalization.)Idiopathic – Unknown cause.

Incontinence – Inability to prevent discharge of urine, and sometimes feces. Urinary urgency or incontinence is a common symptom of Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus.

Intraventricular Hemorrhage (IVH) – A bleed within the ventricular system of the brain (also referred to as a brain bleed).

Lateral Ventricles – There are two, one on each side of the brain (near the center of the brain) – see Cerebral Ventricles.

Lumbar Drain – A lumbar drain is used in a variety of circumstances including testing whether a person might be a candidate for long-term shunting of (CSF) fluid. In patients diagnosed with NPH, prior to placing a permanent shunt, a lumbar drain can be used to gauge if the patient will respond to the shunt. This is a procedure done in the hospital (it may take 1 to 4 days to complete).

Lumbar Puncture – See Spinal Tap.

Lumbar Tap - See Spinal Tap.

Lumboperitoneal Shunt – The proximal catheter is placed in the lumbar area of the spine and the distal catheter is placed in the peritoneal cavity.

MRI – (Short for) Magnetic Resonance Imaging. This is a non-invasive test which uses radio signals and a powerful magnet to show the anatomical structures of the brain. It can reveal enlarged ventricles and evaluate the CSF Flow.

Non-Communicating Hydrocephalus - Hydrocephalus that is caused by an obstruction in the flow of the CSF.

Non-Obstructive – See Communicating Hydrocephalus.

Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH) – A form of hydrocephalus where the ventricles are enlarged, but there is no obstruction the ventricular system. The cause appears to be that the used CSF is not being absorbed (and discarded).

Obstructive Hydrocephalus – See Non-Communicating Hydrocephalus.

Over-Drainage – Is a condition where too much CSF has been withdrawn from the cerebral ventricles. Usual symptoms are noticed after being upright for a while and usually include a severe headache in the morning with in about ½ hour to an hour after getting out of bed. Can be combined with nausea, dizziness, and vomiting. Over draining can result in “Slit Ventricle Syndrome.”

Peritoneal Cavity – The area of the abdomen, below the diaphragm where the intestines are located.

Programmable Shunt – Type of shunt where the physician can raise or lower the amount of CSF taken from the brain. To change the setting by means of a magnetic device placed over the shunt. NO surgery is involved.

Proximal (Catheter) – A catheter that is placed in a ventricle of the brain.

Reservoir – Part of the shunt where the CSF is stored and then released periodically.

Revision – An operation is performed to replace one part of the shunt, or the entire system (of the shunt).

Shunts – A mechanical device implanted that drains excess CSF to another part of the body where it can be absorbed and discarded. There are many types and the neurosurgeon will chose the one he feels will benefit the patient the best ~ and of course, depending on type (where the blockage is or if it is a communicating type of hydrocephalus). The most commonly used shunts are: Ventriculoperitoneal (VP) Shunt, Ventriculoartial (VA) Shunt, Ventriculopleural (VPI) shunt, and Lumboperitoneal (LP) shunt.

Slit Ventricle Syndrome – A condition where the ventricles are small and appear to be slit-like in appearance in a CT or MRI scan, which revel that they are very narrow or almost nonexistent.

Spinal Tap – (Also called a Lumbar Puncture and/or Lumbar Tap.) The insertion of a hollow needle to remove some of the CSF either for pathological testing (i.e. for infection), or to relieve some pressure and see if the patient improves.

Subarachnoid – Space where CSF travels over the surface of the brain and spinal cord.

Third Ventricle – See Cerebral Ventricles.

Under Draining – This occurs when not enough of the CSF is taken. Symptoms usually come about when the patient is reclining or laying down. The patient may wake up with a headache which generally disappears after the patient has been upright for 45 minutes to an hour.

Valve – Mechanical device (in the shunt) which regulates the flow by opening and closing.

Ventricles – See Cerebral Ventricles.

Ventriculoartial (VA) Shunt – Type of shunt where the distal catheter tip lies in the right atrium of the heart. This allows the CSF to enter into the bloodstream directly.

Ventriculopleural Shunt (VPI) – Type of shunt where the distal catheter drains in the pleural space that surrounds the lungs.

Ventroperitional (VP) Shunt – Type of shunt where the distal catheter drains into the lower part of the abdomen.

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