Learning About Hydrocephalus
- Zach Roloff, of “Little People, Big World,” has revealed he’s “back home and recovering” after undergoing an emergency shunt revision in his brain.
- Roloff has dealt with hydrocephalus, a condition that causes a buildup of fluid on the brain.
- “There is no cure and currently the only available treatment is brain surgery,” the Hydrocephalus Association explains. “Shunts [a hollow tube surgically placed in the brain] are commonly used to redirect the fluid and relieve the pressure, but they do not last forever, and they fail, leading to multiple brain surgeries to correct this.”
- Naturally, a lot of people think “cancer” when they hear the words tumor or brain surgery. However, most brain tumors aren’t actually cancerous. Less than one-third (about 32%) of brain tumors are considered malignant (cancerous), according to the American Brain Tumor Association.
The TV personality shared the exciting news on his Instagram page just days after his brain surgery, including a photo of himself resting at home with his three children.Read More
Following the emotional procedure, Zach’s wife Tori also took to Instagram to share some photos of her husband recovering in the hospital.
“I’m here praying that Zach’s recovery is quick and easy and that this will be our answered prayers to relieving his migraines,” she captioned her February 9 post.
“You’re a freaking bad ass, Zach. You just had brain surgery… and handled it like a rockstar. I’m so proud of you,” Tori added.
Zach and Tori, who have been married since 2015, share three kids together, five-year-old Jackson, three-year-old Lilah, and nine-month-old Josiah—all three who were seen sitting on the couch with their dad just days after the surgery.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, “a shunt is a hollow tube surgically placed in the brain (or occasionally in the spine) to help drain cerebrospinal fluid and redirect it to another location in the body where it can be reabsorbed.”
And shunt procedures, like the one Zach underwent, “can address pressure on the brain caused by hydrocephalus and relieve its symptoms such as gait difficulty, mild dementia and lack of bladder control.”
In the wake of Roloff’s surgery, the Hydrocephalus Association (HA) brought awareness to the condition the reality star has dealt with.
“The news stories talk about his shunt revision operation and the scariness of the ordeal. But we also need to bring awareness to the condition that Zach has, hydrocephalus, and the millions that are living with this condition every day,” the HA explained in a recent blog post. “Hydrocephalus and a shunt can mean a lifetime of multiple brain surgeries. For each person living with hydrocephalus, dozens are common and 100 or more is not unheard of.”
The association explained hydrocephalus as “a chronic, neurological condition caused by an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) within cavities of the brain called ventricles, resulting in pressure on the brain.”
“There is no cure and currently the only available treatment is brain surgery,” the HA explains. “Shunts are commonly used to redirect the fluid and relieve the pressure, but they do not last forever, and they fail, leading to multiple brain surgeries to correct this.”
The condition can be developed by anyone at any age and for a variety of reasons. Additionally, people can be born with it or get the condition from a brain tumor, infection of the brain, or a brain injury.
According to the Mayo Clinic, hydrocephalus occurs most often among infants and adults over the age of 60.
“Surgical treatment for hydrocephalus can restore and maintain normal cerebrospinal fluid levels in the brain,” the clinic says “Different therapies are often required to manage symptoms or problems resulting from hydrocephalus.”
What Are Brain Tumors?
According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), brain tumors account for 85 to 90 percent of all primary central nervous system (CNS) tumors. The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord and acts as the main “processing center” for the nervous system. Normal function of the brain and spinal cord can become difficult if there’s a tumor present that puts pressure on or spreads into nearby normal tissue.
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There are many different types of brain and spinal cord tumors. Some are more likely to spread into nearby parts of the brain or spinal cord than others. Slow-growing tumors may be considered benign (non-cancerous), but even these tumors can cause serious problems.
General Symptoms of Brain Tumors
Symptoms of brain tumors, as a whole, are often caused by increased pressure in the skull. This pressure can be caused by tumor growth, swelling in the brain or blockage of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), according to the American Cancer Society.
General symptoms may include the following:
- Blurred vision
- Balance problems
- Personality or behavior changes
- Drowsiness or even coma
Additionally, MD Anderson Cancer Center notes that changes in the ability to smell can be a sign of brain tumors, and, more specifically, “strange smells” can be a symptom of seizures which can result from brain tumors.
Still, it is important to note that these symptoms are not exclusive to brain tumors. You should always consult with your doctor if any health problems arise.
Not Every Brain Tumor is Cancerous
Naturally, a lot of people think “cancer” when they hear the word tumor. However, most brain tumors aren’t actually cancerous. Less than one-third (about 32%) of brain tumors are considered malignant (cancerous), according to the American Brain Tumor Association.
If a tumor is made up of normal-looking cells, then the tumor is benign. But these tumors may still require treatment, such as surgery. Because of this, they are often referred to as “non-malignant,” since the word benign can be misleading.
The most common type of non-malignant brain tumors are meningiomas. However, there are 120 different types of brain and central nervous system tumors, according to ABTA.
Oftentimes after an MRI, a biopsy will be performed on a brain tumor to determine its type. Sometimes, the results of imaging tests show that a tumor is likely to be non-malignant, and a biopsy is not necessary.
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Advocating for Your Health
Here at SurvivorNet, we always encourage people to advocate for themselves when it comes to cancer and, more generally, health care. Cancer, as well as benign tumors, are incredibly serious, and you have every right to insist that your doctors investigate any possible signs of cancer.
“Every appointment you leave as a patient, there should be a plan for what the doc is going to do for you, and if that doesn’t work, what the next plan is,” Dr. Zuri Murrell, director of the Cedars-Sinai Colorectal Cancer Center, told SurvivorNet in a previous interview. “And I think that that’s totally fair. And me as a health professional – that’s what I do for all of my patients.”
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