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Drake, James M. F.R.C.S.C.

doi: 10.1227/01.neu.0000316268.05338.5b

THE SURGICAL MANAGEMENT of hydrocephalus has undergone incredible changes over the past generation of neurosurgeons, including dramatic improvements in imaging, especially computed tomographic scanning and magnetic resonance imaging, and remarkably innovative advances in cerebrospinal fluid valve technology, complex computer models, and endoscopic equipment and techniques. In terms of overall patient outcomes, however, one could conclude that things are a little better, but “not much.” This frustrating yet fascinating dichotomy between technological advancements and clinical outcomes makes hydrocephalus, first described by the ancients, as one of the most understated and complex disorders that neurosurgeons treat. The challenge to the next generation of neurosurgeons is to solve this vexing problem through better understanding of the basic science, improved computer models, additional technological advances, and, most importantly, a broad-based, concerted multidisciplinary attack on this disorder. This review focuses on the evolution of surgery for hydrocephalus over the last 30 years, the current state of the art of hydrocephalus treatment, and what appear to be the most promising future directions.

Division of Neurosurgery, Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

Reprint requests: James M. Drake, F.R.C.S.C., Hospital for Sick Children, 555 University Avenue, Toronto, Canada, M5G 1X8. Email:

Received, May 19, 2007.

Accepted, October 25, 2007.

Copyright © by the Congress of Neurological Surgeons