Hydrocephalus diagnosis

Older gentleman recovering from hydrocephalus at The Christ Hospital.

​Hydrocephalus, or abnormally enlarged ventricles of the brain, is a common cause for many neurological problems, including headaches, memory loss and difficulty walking. Often these symptoms can slowly worsen over time and properly finding the diagnosis is paramount in order to reverse these symptoms.

It’s important to have a neurologist and a neurosurgeon as part of your diagnosis and treatment team. This team approach is helpful for interpreting test results, discussing possible surgical procedures and follow-up care, and outcome expectations.

Diagnosis of hydrocephalus in adults usually includes a brain scan, intracranial pressure monitoring and evaluation of symptoms.

Diagnostic tests may include: 

  • Computed tomography (CT) imaging scan—creates multiple, detailed three-dimensional images of the brain and blood vessels in the head.

  • Intracranial pressure (ICP) monitoring—a diagnostic test that helps your doctor determine if high or low cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pressure is causing your symptoms. 

  • Lumbar puncture—a needle is inserted into the spinal canal to collect and examine fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Often this is use in conjunction with a lumbar drain trial, where the fluid is collected continuously over one to three days to assess for changes or improvement in symptoms.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)—uses a magnet, radio frequencies and a computer, instead of radiation, to produce detailed pictures of structures inside the head. 

  • Neuropsychological assessment—a method to assess cognitive functioning.

Get more information about hydrocephalus care at The Christ Hospital Health Network.