In order to diagnose hydrocephalus, the doctor will ask a number of questions and perform a physical exam to look for signs and symptoms of hydrocephalus. He or she may also recommend certain tests that can be used to diagnose the condition. These tests may include:
Computed tomography scan (CT scan)
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Hydrocephalus is most often treated with the surgical placement of a shunt system. This system diverts the flow of CSF from a site within the central nervous system to another area of the body where it can be absorbed as part of the circulatory process. A limited number of patients are treated with an alternative procedure called third ventriculostomy. In this procedure, a small hole is made in the floor of the third ventricle, allowing the CSF to bypass the obstruction.
The prognosis for patients diagnosed with hydrocephalus is difficult to predict, although there is some relationship between the cause of the patient's condition and the outcome of the condition. Prognosis is further complicated by the presence of associated disorders, the timeliness of diagnosis, and the success of treatment.
The symptoms of normal pressure hydrocephalus usually get worse over time if the condition is not treated, although some people may experience temporary improvements.
If left untreated, progressive hydrocephalus is fatal, with rare exceptions. The parents of children with hydrocephalus should be aware that hydrocephalus poses risks to both cognitive and physical development. Treatment by an interdisciplinary team of medical professionals, rehabilitation specialists, and educational experts is critical to a positive outcome. Many children diagnosed with the disorder benefit from rehabilitation therapies and educational interventions, and go on to lead normal lives with few limitations.