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Non-surgical Treatments

The following excerpt is taken from Chapter Four of Hydrocephalus: A Guide for Patients, Families, and Friends by Chuck Toporek & Kellie Robinson, copyright 1999 by O'Reilly & Associates, Inc. For book orders/information, call 1-800-998-9938. Permission is granted to print and distribute this excerpt for noncommercial use as long as the above source is included. The information in this article is meant to educate and should not be used as an alternative for professional medical care.

In an attempt to reduce the risk of surgery and shunt complications, neurosurgeons have tried a variety of non-surgical treatments to control hydrocephalus. These treatments include a combination of different pharmacological products, including acetazolamide (Diamox) and furosemide (Lasix) to reduce production of CSF by the choroid plexus, and serial lumbar punctures of the spine to drain CSF.

Acetazolamide and furosemide, both of which are diuretics used for treating other conditions, are given to hydrocephalus patients to control intracranial pressure and fluid retention. These drugs may be used to provide temporary relief of increased ICP, but usually they are not helpful.

Serial lumbar punctures are predominantly used on premature infants who had an intraventricular hemorrhage. Repetitive lumbar punctures are performed to drain excess CSF within the ventricles. Often, an intraventricular hemorrhage will block CSF flow within the ventricles or in the basal cistern, causing non-communicating hydrocephalus, making serial lumbar punctures ineffective.

Non-operative treatments of hydrocephalus have seen only moderate success rates, often postponing surgery to implant a shunt system.

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