Idiopathic Hydrocephalus

Idiopathic hydrocephalus is a condition, in which there is an excess of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in cavities within the brain, called ventricles. With this additional fluid, pressure builds within the brain causing a variety of symptoms. Idiopathic means without any known cause.  This condition most commonly occurs in individuals in their 60s, 70s and 80s. In such patients, the pressure increase may be very mild or not even detectable.

Because idiopathic hydrocephalus symptoms are similar to those of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders, it is often misdiagnosed or unrecognized. The most common indicators of idiopathic hydrocephalus include mental confusion, mild forgetfulness, short-term memory lapses, loss of interest in normal activities, gait disturbance or difficulty walking, a decline in thinking skills and urinary incontinence.

Getting Diagnosed

Our team of specialists at the Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus Center provide thorough neurological evaluations using the latest diagnostic technology to diagnose idiopathic hydrocephalus, including computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging(MRI).

We work closely with other centers within the Northwell Health Neuroscience Institute, including the Movement Disorders Center and the Chiari Institute, to ensure an accurate diagnosis and the appropriate treatment for the best outcome.

Facts about Idiopathic Hydrocephalus

  • It is estimated that 375,000 people with dementia in the United States may have idiopathic  hydrocephalus.
  • The cause of idiopathic hydrocephalus is usually unknown.
  • Without treatment, symptoms may get worse over time.
  • Early diagnosis and treatment may improve the chance of a good recovery.
  • After treatment, some people can recover almost completely and enjoy good quality of life.

Your Path to Health and Wellness Starts Here

The Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus Center of Northwell Health Neuroscience Institute ensures the best neurological care for yourself and your family, including thorough neurological evaluations, the latest diagnostic technology and the most advanced treatment options. 


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The Neuroscience Institute

We are dedicated to the world-class diagnosis and treatment of neurological diseases and disorders.