Post Traumatic Hydrocephalus: Incidence, Pathophysiology and Outcomes

Neurol India. 2021 Nov-Dec;69(Supplement):S420-S428. doi: 10.4103/0028-3886.332264.


Background: Post-traumatic hydrocephalus (PTH) is a sequel of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that is seen more often in patients undergoing decompressive craniectomy (DC). It is associated with prolonged hospital stay and unfavorable outcomes.

Objective: To study the incidence and risk factors for development of PTH in patients undergoing DC in our institution and to review the literature on PTH with respect to incidence, risk factors, pathophysiology, and outcomes of management.

Methods: Data from 95 patients (among 220 patients who underwent DC for TBI and fulfilled the inclusion criteria) over a 5-year period at Christian Medical College, Vellore were collected and analyzed to study the incidence and possible risk factors for development of PTH. A review of the literature on PTH was performed by searching PUBMED resources.

Results: Thirty (31.6%) out of 95 patients developed post-traumatic ventriculomegaly, of whom seven (7.3%) developed symptomatic PTH, necessitating placement of ventriculoperitoneal shunt (VPS). No risk factor for development of PTH could be identified. The reported incidence of PTH in the literature is from 0.07% to 29%, with patients undergoing DC having a higher incidence. Younger age, subarachnoid hemorrhage, severity of TBI, presence of subdural hygroma, and delayed cranioplasty after DC are the main risk factors reported in the literature.

Conclusions: PTH occurs in a significant proportion of patients with TBI and can lead to unfavorable outcomes. PTH has to be distinguished from asymptomatic ventriculomegaly as early as possible so that a CSF diversion procedure can be planned early during development of PTH.

Keywords: Cerebrospinal fluid dynamics; post-traumatic hydrocephalus; risk factors; subdural hygroma; traumatic brain injury; traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Decompressive Craniectomy*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocephalus* / epidemiology
  • Hydrocephalus* / etiology
  • Hydrocephalus* / surgery
  • Incidence
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt