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What causes Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus? August 10, 2012

Posted by mvarlan in Uncategorized.

The simple answer: we have some clues, but don’t know for sure.

Hydrocephalus is an abnormal accumulation of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) in your brain and can be present at birth (congenital) or acquired over the course of your life.

Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, or NPH, is a form of hydrocephalus that affects those over the age of 55, causing disturbing symptoms such as urinary incontinence, gait imbalance (difficulty walking), and memory difficulties.

The normal process of aging can lead to softening of the brain. This can cause the ventricles in your brain–hollow areas where CSF accumulates–to expand as a result of fluctuations in the amount and pressure of CSF. This expansion and the resulting pressure it puts on other areas of your brain can cause the classic symptoms of NPH.

NPH can develop as the result of head injury, cranial surgery, subarachnoid hemorrhage, meningitis, tumors, cysts, subdural hematomas, bleeding during surgery, and infections. Most patients will never know what caused NPH to develop, but fortunately the condition can be treated regardless of the cause.

Next week we will address treatment options for NPH.


Maggie Bobrowitz, RN, MBA
Neuroscience Program Coordinator
Barrow Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus Center



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