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Hydrocephalus Explored

The shock of learning that your baby has hydrocephalus and needs brain shunt surgery can be daunting. Maybe a more conservative approach can result in a positive outcome.

In medical terms, hydrocephalus is a build-up of cerebrospinal fluid in the ventricles that can put pressure on and damage the brain. The surgical solution is to run a shunt from a ventricle to a lower body cavity to drain off the excess fluid.

In my clinical experience, I have found that, more often than not, these babies can respond positively with the Gillespie Approach. I believe that this conservative procedure should be tried first before neurosurgery.

We look at the brain as a dynamic living organ that is continually expanding and contracting. This motion helps to fluctuate the cerebrospinal fluid around the ventricular system.

The choroid plexus forms daily about one pound of fluid, which needs to flow unimpeded with exit points. A backup in the system from the effects of birth trauma can possibly cause hydrocephalus.

I hypothesize that the biggest area of concern is the narrow aqueduct of Sylvius between the third and fourth ventricles. Therapy can open this space and other potential restrictions in the ventricular system for some babies to reestablish the normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid.

In other cases, structural anomalies may be the cause of hydrocephalus, rendering our therapy completely ineffective. But I believe that our work needs to be tried first on all diagnosed babies as a low-risk, high-reward procedure to avoid needless neurosurgery.

Since the effects of trauma need to be addressed and corrected at birth, Gillespie Approach Training is a must for all neonatal providers.

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