Review of the Treatment & Management of Hydrocephalus

Jacqueline Groat, PharmD Candidate; Joshua J. Neumiller, PharmD, CDE, CGP, FASCP


US Pharmacist. 2013;38(3):HS-8-HS-11. 

In This Article

Detection and Diagnosis

It is difficult to detect hydrocephalus because of its varied signs and symptoms, which commonly overlap with those of other diseases. Infants are likely to have a different disease progression from that of children and adults. Nausea and vomiting are common in infants and adults. In infants, fussiness and poor appetite are common indicators of hydrocephalus; however, the most prominent sign is a distended skull.[1,3] The sutures in infant skulls are soft and not fully developed, which allows them to expand upon increased pressure from CSF accumulation.[1,3] The increased intracranial pressure commonly causes headaches in adults and children, as their skull bones are not flexible. Difficulty with concentration and memory, a lack of balance, decreased bladder control, and a downward gaze are the most obvious signs in adults and children.[1]

Since there are many conditions that could potentially cause symptoms suggestive of hydrocephalus, the most effective process for identification is to determine the symptoms, complete a differential diagnosis to rule out other causes (Table 2), and perform a CT scan or MRI of the brain to detect any ventriculomegaly.[8]