Could Dementia be the wrong diagnosis?

September 2011

Many people expect to experience some level of memory loss in their later years, however, when this then moves to confusion, most would consider Dementia or Alzheimer disease to be the diagnosis. But according to one expert this isn’t necessarily always the case.

Mr Ravi Nannapaneni at the University Hospital of Wales Cardiff and privately at Spire Cardiff Hospital specialises in neurosurgery and suggests that there is a percentage of this population suffering with Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH). Mr Nannapaneni explains "normal pressure hydocephalus or (NPH), may present in a number of ways however, in an older patient this often presents with the recent onset of memory loss and difficulty in walking. In addition to this the patient may also suffer with falls and urinary incontinence. Though these are all symptoms that are synonymous with the older population, for a patient with (NPH) they are treatable."

Mr Nannapaneni explained "the brain is a fascinating organ, which in the general population produces on average around half a litre of brain fluid a day. In most of us this fluid  is absorbed and constantly replenished according to our need, however in a patient suffering with (NPH) this isn’t the case. These patients have defective absorption resulting in a slight increase of pressure in the brain. This pressure squeezes vital centres which results in the symptoms of difficulty in walking, short term memory loss and the distressing symptom of incontinence."

Many may be concerned with how we actually diagnose (NPH) over general dementia. Mr Nannapaneni says "there is quite a complex but very definitive diagnostic process. Each patient undergoes a series of tests for memory and walking ability prior to undergoing a lumbar puncture. The lumbar puncture allows the clinician to drain some spinal fluid reducing the pressure/volume of fluid in the brain and around the spinal cord. The test for memory and walking are then repeated to see if this has improved. In some patients this improvement is immediate with a further percentage of patients seeing improvements over 3-5 days."

For further information or to book a consultation with Mr Nannapaneni call us on 029 2073 6011 or complete our online enquiry form. 

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