Arrested Hydrocephalus in Adults

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In about 10 percent of adults with hydrocephalus, aqueductal stenosis is the cause. This type of hydrocephalus is called arrested hydrocephalus.

What is aqueductal stenosis?

There are four ventricles in the brain. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flows through these ventricles as it cleans and protects the brain.

The “aqueduct” is the channel between the third and fourth ventricles. CSF normally travels from the third ventricle through the aqueduct and into the fourth ventricle. When that channel is too narrow (referred to as “stenosis”), CSF may build up in the third ventricle.

An infant who has a narrow aqueduct at birth has congenital aqueductal stenosis. If the aqueduct is mostly or completely blocked, the child will likely experience symptoms and be diagnosed with hydrocephalus at an early age. If, however, the aqueduct is only a little narrower than normal, the child may go through life without any symptoms of hydrocephalus.

Brain infections that scar the aqueduct and brain tumors can cause aqueductal stenosis or make congenital aqueductal stenosis worse.

What are the symptoms of arrested hydrocephalus?

Arrested hydrocephalus, which is caused by aqueductal stenosis, is most common in adults who are 25 to 60 years old. Hydrocephalus symptoms that may come on gradually over time include:

  • Trouble walking, standing or balancing (gait)
  • Trouble remembering things or identifying familiar objects (cognition)
  • Trouble controlling your bladder (urinary incontinence)

Some patients also complain of headaches or dizziness, or problems with their eyesight.