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How is hydrocephalus diagnosed?

Hydrocephalus may be diagnosed before birth by prenatal ultrasound, a diagnostic imaging technique which uses high-frequency sound waves and a computer to create images of blood vessels, tissues, and organs. Ultrasounds are used to view internal organs as they function, and to assess blood flow through various vessels. In many cases, hydrocephalus

does not develop until the third trimester of the pregnancy and, therefore, may not be seen on ultrasounds performed earlier in pregnancy.

The diagnosis of congenital hydrocephalus may also be made at birth after diagnostic testing. During the examination, the physician obtains a complete prenatal and birth history of the child. He/she may also ask if there is a family history of any hydrocephalus or other medical problems. The physician will also ask about developmental milestones in older children since hydrocephalus can be associated with other neuromuscular disorders. Developmental delays may require further medical follow-up for underlying problems.

The child's head may appear larger than normal. A measurement of the circumference of the child's head is taken and compared to a scale that can identify normal and abnormal ranges.

Imaging studies - x ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - are used to assess the presence and location of obstructions, as well as changes in brain tissue that have occurred as a result of the hydrocephalus. Lumbar puncture (spinal tap) may be performed to aid in determining the cause.

More information on hydrocephalus

What is hydrocephalus? - Hydrocephalus is the lack of absorption, blockage of flow, or overproduction of the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) that is found inside of the ventricles inside of the brain.
What causes hydrocephalus? - Hydrocephalus can be broadly classified as being caused by disturbance to normal production, flow or absorption of cerebrospinal fluid.
What're the symptoms of hydrocephalus? - The symptoms of hydrocephalus include irritability, fatigue, seizures, and personality changes, drowsiness, and double vision.
How is hydrocephalus diagnosed? - Hydrocephalus may be diagnosed before birth by prenatal ultrasound, a diagnostic imaging technique which uses high-frequency sound waves.
What's the treatment for hydrocephalus? - Treatment of hydrocephalus depends on its cause. Medications are used to slow the rate of cerebrospinal fluid production temporarily.
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