Hydrocephalus refers to a condition that ensues when fluid builds up inside the skull causing swelling of the brain. The term means “water on brain”. The buildup of the fluid causes damage to the brain. The damages caused lead to physical, intellectual and developmental impairments. In order to prevent severe complications, treatment is needed.
There are many healthcare facilities in the United States where patients can get hydrocephalus treatments. However, patients and their families need to travel to reach these hospitals. Medical treatments for the condition are covered by many insurance plans. Unfortunately, travel expenses are not covered. Patients need to plan well for their travel in order to keep these expenses down.
If you already know the hospital where you want to get hydrocephalus treatment, consultation or second opinion, you can go ahead and plan your travel. Otherwise, you can check our list of hospitals that provide hydrocephalus treatment in the country. In case you are unable to meet your travel expenses, you can check our directory of charitable organizations that help to arrange cost-free travel for medical purposes.
About Shaken Baby Syndrome, Hydrocephalus
Hydrocephalus usually occurs in children and individuals over 60 years. Younger adults can also get the condition. According to The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), one to two of every one thousand babies are born with this disease.
Causes of Hydrocephalus
Under normal circumstances, Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) flows via a system of cavities referred to as ventricles and narrow passages till it exits the brain to fill the skull and spine. Both spinal cord and brain float in this. The CSF is then recycled into the bloodstream. Any blocking in any of the ventricles or any disturbance in the recycling process cause back up of CSF resulting in hydrocephalus.
Blunt trauma or strong shaking may cause this condition. When the child cries too much, the caregiver can become frustrated and shake the baby vigorously. The disease diagnosis can be challenging because symptoms may not be specific. In case of a concern, a head CT scan is recommended. Although retinal bleeding is common, it can be triggered by other conditions. Abusive head trauma is child abuse.
- Congenital hydrocephalus. The child is born with the condition. This is usually as a result of issues like spina bifida or aqueductal stenosis.
- Acquired hydrocephalus. This occurs after birth and at any age. Bleeding in the brain is the most common cause. This can happen in babies that are premature or individuals having traumatic injuries of the head. Some children can develop this condition as a result of infection or tumor in the brain. The cause of this is sometimes not known.
Signs of Hydrocephalus
Hydrocephalus can lead to permanent damage to the brain. It is therefore important to look out for signs and symptoms and seek early medical intervention. The following are common signs and symptoms of the disease;
- A Rapid increase in head circumference
- Bulging fontanel
- Excessive sleepiness
- Extreme fussiness
- Eyes fixed downward
- Low muscle tone and strength
- Poor feeding
In young and middle-aged adults
- bladder problems
- chronic headaches
- difficulty concentrating
- difficulty walking
- loss of coordination
- poor memory
- vision problems
Where to Go for Shaken Baby Syndrome, Hydrocephalus Treatment
There are many hospitals in the United States where patients and their families can access hydrocephalus treatment. These hospitals are equipped with the best equipments, staff and support professionals in order to provide comprehensive healthcare. Among the best hospitals for hydrocephalus in United States include the following;
- Seattle Children’s Hospital
Seattle Children’s Hospital has made a major commitment to the treatment of shaken baby syndrome, hydrocephalus. All the neurosurgeons in this facility are experts in treating this disease. The hospital performs more than 200 hydrocephalus operations annually. The hospital is also a leader in hydrocephalus research internationally.
Treatment of Shaken Baby Syndrome, Hydrocephalus
If you suppose you or your loved one has hydrocephalus, you need to go for a physical examination to look for signs and symptoms associated with the condition. In kids, the doctor will check whether the eyes are sunken in, whether the child has a bulging fontanel, slow reflexes or larger-than-normal head circumference for their age. Other tests may include the following;
- Ultrasound to look closely at the brain. This is done to children whose fontanels are still open.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). To check whether the CSF is in excess.
- Computerized tomography (CT). Checks enlargement of brain ventricles that come as a result of excess CSF.
If left untreated, hydrocephalus can lead to death. The treatment may not reverse the damage caused to the brain but can prevent further damages. Treatment is focused on bringing back the normal CSF flow. The following surgical options can be explored in the treatment of hydrocephalus;
- Shunt insertion. The common treatment of hydrocephalus involves surgical insertion of a shunt. This helps CSF to flow at the normal rate and in the correct direction. This implant is permanent and requires being regularly monitored.
- As an alternative to the shunt, ventriculostomy may be performed. A hole is made at the bottom of a ventricle or between ventricles to allow CSF exit the brain.
Risks Associated with Shaken Baby Syndrome, Hydrocephalus
Hydrocephalus cannot be prevented but one can lower the risks of developing the disease. The risks associated with this condition include the following;
- Premature labor. Getting prenatal care during pregnancy can reduce premature labor which can result in hydrocephalus.
- Illnesses and infections. Getting vaccinations reduces the risk of developing infections and illnesses that can lead to hydrocephalus.
- Head injuries. Wearing helmets when riding, safety belts and car seats for children driving reduces the risk of head injuries that can lead to the condition.
Who Can Go for Shaken Baby Syndrome, Hydrocephalus Treatment
It is always advisable to maintain routine and regular medical checkups for you and your child all the time. However, those that are experiencing signs and symptoms of hydrocephalus should go for hydrocephalus diagnosis and treatment immediately.
Expectant mothers should maintain proper prenatal and antenatal care to eliminate the chances of their children developing hydrocephalus. Individuals suffering from severe head injuries should go for diagnosis and treatment of the disease as early as possible.