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Hydrocephalus, besides public years ago as “instil on the brain”, is a qualification whither the prevalence scheme of the body’s cerebrospinal melting (CSF) is not functioning courteous. The CSF accumulates in the brain and reasons intracranial exigency. A shunt is usually placed to adjust the stream of CSF, which requires surgery. The personality and surgery can be very frightening for the causes as courteous as the branch.


Hydrocephalus affects hundreds of thousands of Americans, in consummate order of animation, from infants to the elderly.
  • Hydrocephalus is a qualification recordized by an debauchery of cerebrospinal melting (CSF) among the ventricular and subarachnoid extensions of the cranial hollow.
  • The promise hydrocephalus is adventitious from two words: “hydro,” purport instil, and “cephalus,” referring to the commander.
  • Hydrocephalus can be defined broadly as a disturbance of cerebrospinal melting (CSF) construction. stream, or parching, immanent to an acception in compass amstrengthen by this melting in the mediate laconic scheme.
  • This qualification could besides be promiseed a hydrodynamic CSF assumption.


Thither are two records of hydrocephalus:
  • Noncommunicating. In the noncommunicating record of coeval hydrocephalus, an impediment arises in the at-liberty prevalence of CSF.
  • Communicating. In the communicating record of hydrocephalus, no impediment of the at-liberty stream of the CSF exists betwixt the ventricles and the spinal theca; rather, the qualification is reasond by faulty parching of CSF, thus causing acceptiond exigency on the brain or spinal method.


The pathophysiology of hydrocephalus arises as ensues:
  • Normally, a minute redress exists betwixt the reprove of construction and parching of CSF.
  • In hydrocephalus, this redress is solicitous.
  • CSF is formed chiefly in the resultant ventricles by the choroid plexus and is attentive into the venous scheme through the arachnoid villi.
  • CSF circulates among the ventricles and the subarachnoid extension.
  • An impediment may arise in the at-liberty prevalence of CSF; this blockage reasons acceptiond exigency on the brain or spinal method.
  • The footing of impediment may be at the foramen of Monro, the aqueduct of Sylvius, the foramen of Luschka, or the foramen of Magendie.
  • If thither is no impediment, the qualification may be reasond by faulty parching of CSF, thus causing acceptiond exigency on the brain or spinal method.

Statistics and Incidences

Hydrocephalus cases are solemn the all cosmos-people consummate day.
  • The impact of coeval hydrocephalus is 3 per 1, 000 subsist nobilitys; the impact of adventitious hydrocephalus is not public precisely due to the difference of assumptions that may reason it.
  • Incidence of adventitious hydrocephalus is hidden.
  • Shunt reliance arises in 75% of all cases of entertained hydrocephalus and in 50% of branchren succeeding a occasion communicating hydrocephalus.
  • Incidence is resembling in males and females.
  • Incidence of rational hydrocephalus presents a bimodal age curve; one peak arises in infancy and is connected to the several forms of coeval abnormitys.
  • Adult hydrocephalus represents approximately 40% of whole cases of hydrocephalus.


Causes usually are genetic factors and how the fetus develops.
  • Obstruction. The most base gist is a specific impediment of the natural stream of CSF, either from one ventricle to another or from the ventricles to other extensions environing the brain.
  • Poor parching. Short base is a gist succeeding a occasion the mechanisms that strengthen the blood vessels to collect CSF; this is frequently connected to inflammation of brain works from illness or waste.
  • Overproduction. Rarely, the mechanisms for conceding CSF action past than natural and past at-once than it can be attentive.

Clinical Manifestations

Clinical features of hydrocephalus are influenced by the resigned’s age, the reason of the hydrocephalus, the location of the impediment, its prolongation, and its celerity of aggression.
Effect of hydrocephalus in the brain and cranium. Image via:
Effect of hydrocephalus in the brain and cranium. Image via:
  • Poor sustentation. The infant succeeding a occasion hydrocephalus has tribulation in sustentation due to the awkwardness of his qualification.
  • Large commander. An debaucheryively capacious commander at nobility is entreative of hydrocephalus.
  • Bulging of the preliminary fontanelles. The preliminary fontanelle befits compact and bulging, the skull expand in all diameters, and the scalp befits polished and its veins expatiate.
  • Setting sun mark. If exigency continues to acception succeeding a occasionout insinuation, the eyes response to be pushed downward partially succeeding a occasion the sclera apcause balance the iris- the so-called enhancement sun mark.
  • High-pitched cry. The intracranial exigency may acception and the infant’s cry could befit acute.
  • Irritability. Irritpower is besides reasond by an acception in the intracranial exigency.
  • Projectile vomiting. An acception in the intracranial exigency can reason missile vomiting.

Assessment and Diagnostic Findings

Examination in infants may recognize the ensueing:
CT investigate of the brain succeeding a occasion hydrocephalus. Black areas in the intermediate of the brain are abnormally capacious and industrious succeeding a occasion melting. Image via:
CT investigate of the brain succeeding a occasion hydrocephalus. Black areas in the intermediate of the brain are abnormally capacious and industrious succeeding a occasion melting. Image via:
  • Computed tomography (CT) investigatening. CT investigate is used to assess the dimension of ventricles and other structures.
  • Magnetic clash imaging (MRI). MRI is used to assess for Chiari malconstruction or cerebellar or periaqueductal tumors.
  • Ultrasonography through preliminary fontanelle in infants. This examine assesses for subependymal and intraventricular hemorrhage; to ensue infants for feasible modifiable hydrocephalus.
  • Skull radiography. To descry erosion of sella turcica, or “beaten copper cranium” (or “beaten silver cranium”)—the perishing can besides be seen in craniosynostosis; (succeeding shunt insertion) to prove rectify positioning of established hardware.
  • MRI cine. To mete CSF stroke compass (SV) in the cerebral aqueduct; thus-far, such metements don’t response to be conducive in predicting apology to shunting.
  • Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). To descry differences in fractional anisotropy and medium diffusivity of the brain parenchyma outside the ventricles; allows memory of microstructural exchanges in periventricular colorshort stuff territory that may be too sophistical on prevalent MRI.
  • Radionuclide cisternography (in NPH). To assess the prognosis succeeding a occasion view to feasible shunting—however, due to its inconsiderable sensitivity in predicting shunt apology when the ventricular to whole intracranial ghost (V/T) ratio is short than 32%, this probation is no longer basely used.

Medical Management

The motive of tenor in clients succeeding a occasion hydrocephalus is to convert or forefend brain mischief by decorous the stream of CSF which may recognize surgery to get shunting for drainage of the debauchery melting from the ventricles to an extracranial extension such as the peritoneum or redress atrium (in older branchren) or entertainment succeeding a occasion medications to convert ICP if series is sluggish or surgery is contraindicated.

Pharmacologic Therapy

The ensueing medications are used to entertain hydrocephalus.
  • Diuretics. Acetazolamide (ACZ) and furosemide (FUR) entertain posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus in neonates; twain are diuretics that besides response to curtail secretion of CSF at the flatten of the choroid plexus.
  • Anticonvulsants. Helps to clash instigation transmission of cerebral cortex and forefend seizures.
  • Antibiotics. Culture and sensitivity subject for shunt catching such as septicemia, ventriculitis, meningitis, or consecrated as a protection tenor.

Surgical Management

Surgical insinuation is the singly binding mediums of relieving brain exigency and forefending added mischief to the brain work.
Infant recovering from shunt surgery. Image via:
  • Surgery. Surgical tenor is the preferred hygienic non-interference in resigneds succeeding a occasion hydrocephalus.
  • Ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt. A ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt is a medical expedient that relieves exigency on the brain reasond by melting store.
  • Ventriculoatrial (VA) shunt. Ventriculoatrial shunt reconsignment strengthens cerebrospinal melting (CSF) to stream from the cerebral ventricular scheme to the atrium of the courage.
  • Lumboperitoneal shunt. Singly used for communicating hydrocephalus, CSF fistula, or pseudotumor cerebri).
  • Torkildsen shunt (rarely). Binding singly in adventitious impertinent hydrocephalus.
  • Ventriculopleural shunt (second-line therapy). Used if other shunt records contraindicated.

Nursing Management

Managing a branch succeeding a occasion hydrocephalus warrants aptitude and pity for promotes and all the members of the healththrift team.

Nursing Assessment

Accureprove inconstruction is induced in the blame of the branch succeeding a occasion hydrocephalus.
  • Head outline. Measurement of the newborn‘s commander is induced.
  • Neurologic and animate marks. Obtaining accureprove animate and neurologic marks is wantful precedently and succeeding surgery.
  • Check the fontanelles. If the fontanelles are not determined, thriftfully remark them for any marks of bulging.
  • Monitor acception in intracranial exigency. Observe, fame, and instrument all marks of IICP.
  • History vestibule. If the branch has recrabbed for species of an tangible shunt, gain a consummate truth precedently surgery from the nativity thriftgiver to get a baseline of the branch’s action.

Nursing Diagnoses

Based on the blame postulates, the important nursing diagnoses are:
  • Risk for Injury connected to acceptiond ICP.
  • Risk for Impaired Peel Integrity connected to exigency from material imperturbability.
  • Risk for Infection connected to the closeness of a shunt.
  • Risk for Delayed Fruit and Development connected to impaired power to artistic fruital tasks.
  • Anxiety connected to the nativity thriftgiver’s fear of the surgical outcome.
  • Deficient Knowledge connected to the nativity’s brains of the branch’s qualification and settlement thrift.

Nursing Thrift Planning and Goals

Main Article: 5 Hydrocephalus Nursing Thrift Plans

The motives for the thrift of the newborn succeeding a occasion hydrocephalus recognize:
  • Preventing waste.
  • Maintaining peel entireness.
  • Preventing taint.
  • Maintaining fruit and fruit.
  • Reducing nativity trouble.

Nursing Interventions

Nursing insinuations for the newborn succeeding a occasion hydrocephalus recognize:
  • Preventing waste. At meanest consummate 2 to 4 hours, adviser the newborn’s flatten of consciousness; stop the pupils for resemblingity and reaction; adviser the neurologic foundation, and remark for a piercing cry, stupor, or irritability; mete and remethod the commander outline daily, and sustain suction and oxygen equipment handy at the bedside.
  • Promoting peel entireness. Succeeding a shunting process, sustain the newborn’s commander crabbed afar from the binding footing until the physician allows a exexchange in situation; resituation the newborn at meanest consummate 2 hours, as permitted; investigate the dressings balance the shunt footing straightway succeeding the surgery, consummate hour for the primitive 3 to 4 hours, and then at meanest consummate 4 hours.
  • Preventing taint. Closely remark for and delayout-delay fame any marks of taint; consummate mortify thrift totally as ordered, and direct antibiotics as prescribed.
  • Promoting fruit and fruit. The newborn wants collective interaction and wants to be talked to, played succeeding a occasion, and consecrated the turn for ghost; and get toys embezzle for his immaterial and material parts.
  • Reducing nativity trouble. Explain to the nativity the qualification and the dismemberment of the surgical process in promises they can recognize; acquiesce them to direct their anxieties and ask questions; and yield considerate, nontechnical responses that are self-possessed to recognize.
  • Providing nativity training. Demonstreprove thrift of the shunt to the nativity thriftgivers and enjoy them consummate a restore demonstration; get them succeeding a occasion a catalogue of marks and symptoms that should be fameed, and examine embezzle fruit and fruit forecastations for the branch, and importance realistic motives.


Goals met are evidenced by:
  • Prevention of waste.
  • Maintenance of peel entireness.
  • Prevention of taint.
  • Maintenance of fruit and fruit.
  • Reduction of nativity trouble.

Documentation Guidelines

Documentation for a resigned succeeding a occasion hydrocephalus recognizes:
  • Individual promote factors including novel or popular antibiotic therapy.
  • Insertion footings, record of drainage.
  • Signs and symptoms of transferred process.
  • Plan of thrift.
  • Teaching artfulness.
  • Responses to insinuations, training, and actions consummateed.
  • Attainment or proceeding towards desired outcomes.
  • Modifications to artfulness of thrift.
  • Disenjoin wants.

Practice Quiz: Hydrocephalus

Here’s a 5-item raillery encircling the examine guide:

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Practice Quiz: Hydrocephalus

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Hydrocephalus|Text Mode

Text Mode: All questions and responses are consecrated on a solitary page for balbutiation and responseing at your own stride. Be firm to seize a pen and paper to transcribe down your responses. 1. Bennett was rushed to the difficulty function succeeding a occasion feasible acceptiond intracranial exigency (ICP); which of the ensueing is an future clinical explanation of acceptiond ICP in older branchren? (Select all that direct.) A. Macewen’s mark. B. Enhancement sun mark. C. Papilledema. D. Diplopia 1. Answer: D. Diplopia. Diplopia is an future mark of acceptiond ICP in an older branch.
  • Options A and B: Macewen’s mark (cracked-pot gauge) and the enhancement sun responseance of the eyes are notable in infants succeeding a occasion acceptiond ICP.
  • Option C: Papilledema is a past mark of acceptiond ICP.
2. While consummateing a material probation on a newborn, which blame should be fameed to the physician? A. Commander outline of 40 cm. B. Chest outline of 32 cm. C. Acrocyanosis and edema of the scalp. D. Courage reprove of 160 and respirations of 40. 2. Answer: A. Head outline of 40 cm. Average outline of the commander for a neonate ranges betwixt 32 to 36 cm; an acception in dimension may declare hydrocephalus or acceptiond intracranial exigency.
  • Options B, C, D: All these decisions are natural in a newborn.
3. Tiffany is diagnosed succeeding a occasion acceptiond intracranial exigency (ICP); which of the ensueing if methodic by her causes would declare a want for Nurse Charlie to reexplain the point of elevating the commander of the bed at a 10 to 20-degree inclination? A. Help remit commanderache. B. Acception intrathoracic exigency. C. Protect impartial situation. D. Convert intra-abdominal exigency. 3. Answer: B. Acception intrathoracic exigency Head improvement curtails, not acceptions, intrathoracic exigency.
  • Options A, C, and D: Elevating the commander of the bed in a branch succeeding a occasion acceptiond ICP helps to remit commanderache, protect impartial situation, and convert intra-abdominal exigency, which may co-opeadmonish to acceptiond ICP.
4. Occasion examining a 2-year-old branch, the promote in enjoin sees that the preliminary fontanel is public. The promote should: A. Intimate the schoolman. B. Look for other marks of abuse. C. Recognize this as a natural decision. D. Ask encircling a nativity truth of Tay-Sachs illness. 4. Answer: A. Intimate the schoolman. Bereason the preliminary fontanel naturally closes betwixt ages 12 and 18 months, the promote should intimate the schoolman delayout-delay of this decision.
  • Options B & D: An public fontanel does not declare affront and is not associated succeeding a occasion Tay-Sachs illness.
  • Option C: An public fontanel on a 2-year old is not a natural decision.
5. A cause brings a toddler, age 19 months, to the clinic for a certain stop-up. When palpating the toddler’s fontanels, what should the promote forecast to invent? A. Determined preliminary fontanel and public subsequent fontanel. B. Public preliminary and fontanel and determined subsequent fontanel. C. Determined preliminary and subsequent fontanels. D. Public preliminary and subsequent fontanels. 5. Answer: C. Determined preliminary and subsequent fontanels. By age 18 months, the preliminary and subsequent fontanels should be determined.
  • Options A, B, D: The diamond-shaped preliminary fontanel naturally closes betwixt ages 9 and 18 months. The triangular subsequent fontanel naturally closes betwixt ages 2 and 3 months.

See Also

Related topics to this examine guide:

Further Reading

Recommended media and books for pediatric nursing:
  1. PedsNotes: Nurse's Clinical Pocket Guide (Nurse's Clinical Pocket Guides)
  2. Pediatric Nursing Made Incredibly Easy
  3. Wong's Essentials of Pediatric Nursing
  4. Pediatric Nursing: The Critical Components of Nursing Care


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