Is a Shunt Right for You? Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus


In order to determine whether a shunt is right for you or your family member, your neurosurgeon will use one or more of a variety of possible diagnostic tests. He or she will also consider any other conditions you may have.

Diagnostic Procedures

There are several diagnostic tests that can help in diagnosing hydrocephalus. These same studies can also help evaluate the shunt in case of malfunction or infection.

Computed Tomography

Computer tomography (CT) scans use tiny beams of x-ray to outline the skull, brain, and ventricles. In addition to visualizing the size and shape of the ventricles, abnormalities such as tumors, cysts, and other pathologies can also be seen.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive diagnostic tool that uses radio signals and a magnet to form computer images of the brain and the ventricles.

Neuropsychological Testing

Neuropsychological testing is the most accurate means of identifying an individual’s cognitive strengths and difficulties. The tests involve answering questions, performing tasks, and following instructions.

Lumbar Puncture or Spinal Tap

In this procedure, the healthcare team removes cerebrospinal fluid and checks for an improvement in the symptoms related to normal pressure hydrocephalus.

External Lumbar Drainage

This technique is an option if an individual doesn’t respond to a simple lumbar puncture. The procedure requires hospitalization for 3 to 5 days so that cerebrospinal fluid can be drained and the person’s symptoms regularly assessed.

Cerebrospinal Fluid Outflow Resistance

This test determines the body’s capacity to absorb excess cerebrospinal fluid. The test involves a lumbar puncture and an infusion of artificial spinal fluid.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.