Normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) symptoms include mental impairment and dementia, problems with walking and difficulty controlling the bladder. If your loved one is struggling with NPH, you also might have a feeling that they are just slowing down, especially their movements. Sometimes, a person with NPH might say that their feet feel stuck or frozen.
Symptoms of normal pressure hydrocephalus can be similar to those of other disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Because of this NPH often is unrecognized or misdiagnosed.
FAQs About Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus
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Treatments for This Condition
What causes normal pressure hydrocephalus, or NPH?
Normal pressure hydrocephalus, or NPH, can occur in adults of any age but it is most common in the elderly. The condition is an abnormal buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain’s cavities. It is caused by a blockage that prevents this fluid from draining from the brain.
NPH can be caused by head trauma that can occur during a fall, which is very common in elderly people. It also can be caused by a subarachnoid hemorrhage, infection, tumor or complications of surgery. But in many people, NPH develops without any known cause.
How is normal pressure hydrocephalus diagnosed?
Our neurosurgeons use a variety of tests to check for NPH. These include brain scans either using a CT or MRI scan, intracranial pressure monitoring, a spinal tap or lumbar catheter to check pressure, and neuropsychological testing to rule out other causes of the symptoms.
How is normal pressure hydrocephalus treated?
Because NPH leads to worsening symptoms over time, we generally recommend consideration of placing a shunt in the brain to drain the excess fluid. The shunt is placed in the brain and drains excess fluid into the abdomen where it is absorbed. By getting rid of the excess fluid (your brain needs a steady normal amount of fluid), the brain ventricles return to their normal size and the symptoms caused by the problem decrease or disappear.
Early diagnosis and treatment improves the chances of a successful outcome.