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

Long-term Prognosis

The treatment of hydrocephalus requires long-term care and lifelong follow-up. This is especially true for children and neonates whose hydrocephalus has a congenital cause. Even after appropriate placement of a shunt, annual neurologic visits are required.[11] Complications, including shunt collapse, infection, and occlusions, can cause a rise in CSF pressure that may lead to symptom recurrence and the need for additional surgeries.[3] Recognizing these signs is challenging because a number of other diseases have symptoms similar to those of hydrocephalus. Delaying medical treatment can be deadly, and all patients with a history of hydrocephalus need to be aware of pertinent symptoms and seek help immediately if they arise.

Children with hydrocephalus face developmental disorders as they age. Hydrocephalus patients have reduced motor function, a lower-than-average adult IQ, and decreased visual function; they also are at risk for developing epilepsy.[11] The extent of the complications observed is dependent upon the type of hydrocephalus, but patients with epileptic seizures (approximately 30%) have the worst clinical outcomes and, compared with patients who did not develop seizures, are more likely to have an IQ lower than 90.[15] About 60% of children with hydrocephalus are able to attend school (although many have difficulties), and approximately 40% of children will lead relatively normal lives.[1,10,11]