Hydrocephalus Surgery

Hydrocephalus Surgery is mostly known as ventriculoperitoneal shunt surgery, and consists of the appropriate detour of cerebrospinal fluid. There are treatments to have fewer symptoms.

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Hydrocephalus Surgery

Hydrocephalus is a disease that often affects children and can develop in the womb.

The corrective operation consists of removing excess cerebrospinal fluid (caused by malabsorption, a blockage in a ventricle, or excessive production) in the ventricles of the brain by shunting the fluid out through a tube.

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    Treatment characteristics

    Depending on the age at which this disease affects us, which can be caused by meningitis or a pathology of its own, different symptoms can occur that indicate the need to resort to this surgery.

    For example, in babies it is characterized by a rapid and unusual increase in the size of the head and a bulge in the fontanel accompanied by poor growth, vomiting, irritability, sleepiness …

    In children and adults it often involves lack of balance, urinary incontinence or irritability, among others.

    In adults over 60 it also leads to memory loss or difficulty walking.

    This procedure is normally performed under general anaesthesia and usually takes between 60 to 90 minutes.

    The intervention consists of:

    – The scalp is partially shaved and the patient is washed from the head to the abdomen.
    – An incision is made on the head (usually behind the ear) and another on the abdomen.
    – A hole is made in the skull through which a shunt is inserted into the lateral ventricle of the brain.
    – A second shunt is placed under the skin from the head incision to the peritoneal incision where excess fluid will be reabsorbed.
    – Both catheters are connected to a valve to regulate intracranial pressure.
    – Finally, the patient will be stitched up.

    After your time in the recovery room, you will be taken to the ward, where you will stay for 3 or 4 days to continue your recovery (depending on your age and physical condition, you may stay the first night in the ICU).

    Some of the symptoms disappear after the ventriculoperitoneal shunt but depending on your age and the progression of the illness up until the time of your operation you may need physiotherapy to recover some diminished faculties among other therapies (cognitive or behavioural).

    If you are able to afford to stay in Spain during the entire recovery process, depending on how affected your abilities are, you should stay here between two to four weeks or between two and six months to achieve a satisfactory recovery following the therapies prescribed by your surgeon.

    Relevant information

    Advantages

    • Nowadays, the standard treatment for hydrocephalus is the surgical implantation of a shunt that redirects cerebrospinal fluid to another part of the body.
    • This technique allows the enlarged ventricles of the brain to return to normal size.
    • Using this technique allows the symptoms of hydrocephalus to be alleviated.
    • All shunt components are placed under the skin. No parts are left outside the body.

    Treatment itinerary

    Before treatment

    • Check that you have prepared all the personal documentation (credit card, cash, passport, Identity Card…), medical (reports, prescriptions, images…) and travel (confirmation of accommodation booking, travel tickets…)​.
    • If you take medication of any kind not related to the surgery, do not forget to take with you the necessary amount for your stay in Spain, as well as the medical prescription that will allow you to travel with it without problems.​

    During treatment

    • Once you are in Spain, you will have to make an appointment with your specialist. During this visit, the doctor will open your medical record, perform a physical examination and tell you if any further tests are needed to confirm the diagnosis.
    • If the surgeon has told you to stop taking any medication a few days before the surgery, such as anticoagulants, please do not forget to follow the exact instructions given by the doctor or you will not be able to have the operation!​
    • He will tell you when you must go to the preoperative study and will confirm the time of admission for the day of your surgery

    After treatment

    • For the first few weeks you may need a pair of compression stockings and, for some time, you should wear a protective helmet and for about 6 weeks you should not use hair dryers or products not recommended by your specialist.

    • In about two weeks you may even begin to practice moderate and individual exercise.
    • Remember that your recovery time will vary depending on your age, your physical condition, your lifestyle habits and your attitude!

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