What is Ventriculitis?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ventriculitis is a rare condition in which the cerebral ventricles become inflamed. In healthy patients, the ventricles drain cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from the brain. In individuals with ventriculitis, drainage may be impeded, and the patient can experience a range of symptoms. This condition is most commonly seen in people who have drains implanted in their ventricles to drain excess CSF, as might be seen in some patients with severe head injuries. It is also seen in neonates.

Some patients with ventriculitis report headaches among their symptoms.
Some patients with ventriculitis report headaches among their symptoms.

The symptoms of ventriculitis vary. Some patients complain of headache and neck pain, while others may develop neurological symptoms such as slurred speech, dizziness, confusion, difficulty swallowing, and so forth. In patients at risk for ventriculitis, a doctor may conduct monitoring for any signs of early problems so that the condition can be promptly addressed.

Patients with severe head injuries may need drains implanted in their ventricles to drain excess cerebrospinal fluid.
Patients with severe head injuries may need drains implanted in their ventricles to drain excess cerebrospinal fluid.

This condition can be diagnosed by taking a sample of cerebrospinal fluid and analyzing it for evidence of infection or inflammation. An assortment of organisms can make their way into the ventricles of the brain when they are made vulnerable by something such as a shunt, and these will be readily apparent in a sample of CSF in the lab. Testing can also include an analysis of any organisms present to determine whether or not they have resistance to commonly used medications.

Symptoms of ventriculitis may include neck pain.
Symptoms of ventriculitis may include neck pain.

Treatment involves the administration of appropriate drugs. Additional samples of CSF can be taken to determine whether or not the patient is responding to treatment, and to confirm that the inflammation is resolving. The patient can also be examined for signs of neurological damage. Since ventriculitis is usually associated with an underlying problem, this issue must also be addressed in the course of treatment.

Some patients with ventriculitis report dizziness and confusion.
Some patients with ventriculitis report dizziness and confusion.

Inflammation of the cerebral ventricles is something which doctors would like to avoid, when possible, because it can be very dangerous for the patient. For this reason, surgeons are very careful when they do any surgery involving the brain, to address concerns about complications such as ventriculitis, and nursing staff monitor patients after procedures involving the brain with special care. Patients at risk of this condition should never be afraid to call the doctor if they have concerns or feel that they have some of the symptoms of ventriculitis, as a doctor would rather be safe than sorry. Conducting an examination and workup to learn that a patient just has a bad headache is preferable to seeing a case of untreated ventriculitis which has reached an advanced state.

Symptoms of ventriculitis may include difficulty swallowing.
Symptoms of ventriculitis may include difficulty swallowing.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

Fasol

@sciencegeek - Ceftriaxone is commonly used to treat this. It is a 3rd generation cephalosporin antibiotic and is usually administered via I.V.

sciencegeek

What kinds of drugs are used in ventriculitis treatment?

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