Let’s discuss ventricles

When we visit Winston-Salem, I take a lot of notes. I ask a lot of questions. And I come home and Google terms and look for images that help me understand what in the world the brain surgeon just tried to dummy down for me. It may not be rocket science, but it is brain surgery. And it’s pretty similar. I think.

I have been schooling myself on the brain’s ventricular system recently, trying to decipher the MRI images and the explanations we’ve been given by Dr. T. One of the things I love most about this doctor is that he takes the time to make sure you I understand what in the world he’s talking about. He’s very thorough and very thoughtful in his explanations. He even takes the time the spell things out for me during his intricate conversations when he can see that I’m struggling with the spelling of pesky little parts of the brain. He is truly as wonderful in the exam room as he is in the operating room.

So, let me tell you what is going on in Chad’s noggin.
I will do the best I can, and I fully admit that I am not a brain surgeon. I do not know what I am talking about.
I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express once, but I doubt that gives me any real authority in an operating room.

Here we have an extracted MRI image from Chad’s latest round of imaging.
Chad’s MRI in on the left, and the image on the right is a random stranger who has beautiful, normal, healthy ventricles.
You can see that Chad’s are…well, quite unhealthy.
You can click the image to view larger.
ventricles copy

Chad’s left ventricle is small and almost the size and shape it should be.
The right ventricle, obviously, is not. It’s like a balloon, full of spinal fluid that has no where to go.
Chad’s shunt is located in the left ventricle, and the two should be communicating with each other.

Here is a brief and very condensed version of the function of spinal fluid, the ventricular system & the mesh-like membrane in between the ventricles that I discussed here. **

Cerebrospinal Fluid
Cerebrospinal fluid(CSF) is found within the brain and surrounds the brain and the spinal cord. It is a clear, watery substance that helps to cushion the brain and spinal cord from injury. This fluid circulates through channels around the spinal cord and brain, constantly being absorbed and replenished. It is within hollow channels in the brain, called ventricles, that the fluid is produced. A specialized structure within each ventricle, called the choroid plexus, is responsible for the majority of CSF production. The brain normally maintains a balance between the amount of CSF that is absorbed and the amount that is produced. However, disruptions in this system may occur.

The Ventricular System
The ventricular system is divided into four cavities called ventricles, which are connected by a series of holes called foramen, and tubes. Two ventricles enclosed in the cerebral hemispheres are called the lateral ventricles (first and second). They each communicate with the third ventricle through a separate opening called the Foramen of Munro.
The third ventricle is in the center of the brain, and its walls are made up of the thalamus and hypothalamus.
The third ventricle connects with the fourth ventricle through a long tube called the Aqueduct of Sylvius. CSF flowing through the fourth ventricle flows around the brain and spinal cord by passing through another series of openings.

The Septum Pellucidum
The septum pellucidum is a  thin, triangular, vertical membrane separating the lateral ventricles of the brain. It separates the anterior horn of the left and right lateral ventricles. It runs as a sheet from the corpus callosum down to the fornix. When the hemispheres are cut apart, the septum remains on one hemisphere, usually the left.

That gave me a headache.
I think it will be helpful for you all me to know when I start talking about this brain surgery stuff again in the near future. But it can wait until after the Thanksgiving holiday. Until then, there will be no more talk about brains, tumors, medications or cancer. Unless I need to tell you something in the event of an emergency.
But emergencies are not allowed in this house anymore without my express permission…so don’t expect to hear anything about the aforementioned crap.
I’m looking forward to writing about some mushy feel-good family togetherness.
Happy Thanksgiving week!

** Giving credit where credit is due: Brain anatomy information taken from NeurosurgeryToday.org.
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One Response to Let’s discuss ventricles

  1. carlabjones says:

    It seems simple…just get the fluid out….I know, I know, it's brain surgery. You are right. No more brain tumor talk. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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