Hydrocephalus is a disorder resulting from abnormal accumulation of spinal fluid in the chambers of the brain. Symptoms include headaches, memory problems, walking difficulties, and urinary incontinence. For adults, the most common form of the disease is normal pressure hydrocephalus. This usually develops in patients over the age of 60. Because symptoms can mimic those of dementia and other diseases associated with aging, it has been estimated that 10 to 15 percent of all patients in nursing homes have normal pressure hydrocephalus, but the majority have not been diagnosed.
In addition to providing expert patient care, the Adult Hydrocephalus Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital is involved in several different areas of research pertaining to normal pressure hydrocephalus, including factors associated with the development of the disease, impact of lifestyle, identification of disease biomarkers, and development of new diagnostic tests.
Mark D. Johnson, MD, PhD, Director of the Adult Hydrocephalus Program, describes diagnosis and treatment of this frequently overlooked disorder.