What is hydrocephalus?

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Normal-pressure hydrocephalus

Normal-pressure hydrocephalus is an abnormal increase of fluid in the brain. It may be caused by many things, including a head injury, an infection, a tumor, or unknown causes.

Normal-pressure hydrocephalus is rare and can be treated. It can occur at any age but is most common in older adults. Symptoms include increased problems with mental abilities such as memory, trouble walking, and problems with bladder control.

If the doctor suspects normal-pressure hydrocephalus, the doctor will evaluate how the person walks. Many people with this condition shuffle or walk with their legs wide apart. Tests may include a CT scan or MRI, a lumbar puncture (spinal tap), or other tests to help rule out other conditions that could be causing the symptoms.

After the doctor has diagnosed normal-pressure hydrocephalus, a surgeon may put in a tube called a shunt. The shunt runs under the skin from the brain to another place in the body, such as the abdomen. The excess fluid drains through the shunt into the body, where it is reabsorbed. This relieves the pressure in the brain and may relieve symptoms.

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