Hydrocephalus is a condition where cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is not absorbed by the brain (non-obstructive) or is unable to drain (obstructive) and builds up inside or around the brain, progressively increasing the pressure on the brain. Without treatment to relieve this pressure, the patient can suffer from growth and developmental abnormalities. Infants and toddlers with this condition may develop an abnormally large head circumference.
Genetic abnormalities and birth defects such as spina bifida and encephaloceles can cause congenital hydrocephalus. Acquired hydrocephalus can result as a complication of head injuries, tumors or infections such as meningitis. Left untreated, severe brain damage can occur.
Patient will have optimal brain function without developmental delays; patient will be free from injury; patient will be free from infection
Assess vital signs hourly per facility protocol
To monitor for signs of increased intracranial pressure such as tachycardia, shallow breathing or rapid changes in blood pressure.
Assess neurological status, examine pupils
To monitor for changes in mental status, reflexes and motor function. Changes in pupil reaction may indicate altered brain stem functioning.
Assess head circumference and fontanelles
Increasing head circumference and bulging of fontanelles indicates accumulating fluid.
Initiate safety and seizure precautions
Administer medications appropriately
Prepare patient for surgery / shunt placement
Patients may undergo surgery to place a VentriculoPeritoneal (VP) shunt that will drain fluid from the brain to the stomach.
Encourage frequent bowel movements by providing stool softeners as necessary
To reduce the risk of increasing cranial pressure due to constipation and straining. More appropriate for toddlers and children than infants.
Monitor for signs of infection of surgical site and prove appropriate wound care
Prevent localized or systemic infection and prevents development of sepsis.
Provide education for patients and parents / caregivers
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