How is normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) treated?

Although there is no cure for NPH, the symptoms can be managed through surgery. Surgery involves inserting a drainage system called a shunt. One end of the shunt -- which is a long sturdy, flexible plastic tube -- is placed into one of the brain's ventricles. The other end is tunneled under the skin to another area of the body, usually the lower part of the abdomen.

The shunt allows the excess cerebrospinal fluid to drain from the brain and be absorbed back into the body. A valve in the shunt keep the fluid flowing in the correct direction and at the right rate. The shunt remains in the person's body for the rest of his or her life.

What are the complications of treatment?

Complications of normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) treatment are those associated with any surgical procedure. They include bleeding, infection, and reaction to the anesthesia used during surgery. Patients might also experience mild abdominal pain. Seizures also may occur as surgery on the brain can affect very sensitive areas of the brain. Fortunately, these complications are not common, and in most cases can be successfully treated.

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