The right and left lateral ventricles are structures within the brain that contain cerebrospinal fluid, a clear, watery fluid that provides cushioning for the brain while also helping to circulate nutrients and remove waste.
Along with the structures known as the third ventricle and the fourth ventricle, the lateral ventricles are part of the body’s ventricular system. The ventricular system acts as a continuation of the central canal of the spinal cord, a similar structure that contains cerebrospinal fluid and runs the length of the neck and trunk.
The separate sections of the ventricular system are connected through small holes known as foramina. The lateral and third ventricles connect through the right and left interventricular foramina, while the third and fourth ventricles connect through a foramen known as the cerebral aqueduct. Other foramina that connect to specific ventricles exist but are not considered part of the ventricular system.
The volume of the lateral ventricles, and similar structures within the brain, can be measured through a CT scan. The scan allows doctors to measure not only the size of the ventricles but also the density of the cerebrospinal fluid that they contain. This information can be used to diagnose potential problems within the brain, including hydrocephalus, an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the ventricles. Hydrocephalus can lead to progressive skull enlargement.
Two largest ventricles in each cerebral hemisphere
The lateral ventricles are the two largest ventricles of the brain and contain cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Each cerebral hemisphere contains a lateral ventricle, known as the left or right ventricle, respectively.
Each lateral ventricle resembles a C-shaped cavity that begins at an inferior horn in the temporal lobe, travels through a body in the parietal lobe and frontal lobe, and ultimately terminates at the interventricular foramina where each lateral ventricle connects to the single, central third ventricle. Along the path, a posterior horn extends backward into the occipital lobe, and an anterior horn extends farther into the frontal lobe.
Each lateral ventricle takes the form of an elongated curve, with an additional anterior-facing continuation emerging inferiorly from a point near the posterior end of the curve; the junction is known as the trigone of the lateral ventricle. The centre of the superior curve is referred to as the body, while the three remaining portions are known as horns (cornua in Latin); they are usually referred to by their position relative to the body (anterior, posterior, or inferior), or sometimes by the lobe of the cerebral cortex into which they extend. Though somewhat flat, the lateral ventricles have a vaguely triangular cross-section. Ependyma, which are neuroepithelial cells, line the ventricular system including the lateral ventricles.
Between the inferior horn and the main body of the ventricle is the putamen, which emerges from the head of the caudate nucleus, and sits above the tapetum; a small number of further connections passing through the occipital tapetum to join the putamen to portions of the caudate nucleus tail adjoining the anterior horn. Below the putamen sits the globus pallidus, with which it connects. These structures bounding the lateral ventricles form a frame curving around the thalamus, which itself constitutes the main structure bounding the third ventricle. Were it not for the choroid plexus, a cleft-like opening would be all that lay between the lateral ventricle and the thalamus; this cleft constitutes the lower part of the choroid fissure. The thalamus primarily communicates with the structures bounding the lateral ventricles via the globus pallidus, and the anterior extremities of the fornix (the mamillary bodies).
Anterior horns of lateral ventricle
The anterior horn of the lateral ventricle is also known as the frontal horn as it extends into the frontal lobe. The anterior horn connects to the third ventricle, via the interventricular foramen. This portion of the lateral ventricle impinges on the frontal lobe, passing anteriorly and laterally, with slight inclination inferiorly. It is separated from the anterior horn of the other lateral ventricle by a thin neural sheet - septum pellucidum, which thus forms its medial boundary. The boundary facing exterior to the ventricle curvature is formed by the corpus callosum - the floor at the limit of the ventricle is the upper surface of the rostrum (the reflected portion of the corpus callosum), while nearer the body of the ventricle, the roof consists of the posterior surface of the genu. The remaining boundary - that facing interior to the ventricle curvature - comprises the posterior edge of the caudate nucleus.
Body of the lateral ventricle
The body of the lateral ventricle, or central part is the part of the ventricle between the anterior horn and the trigone. Its roof is bound by the tapetum of the corpus callosum - and is separated medially from the other lateral ventricle by the septum pellucidum. The tail of the caudate nucleus forms the upper portion of the lateral edge, but it is not large enough to cover the whole boundary. Immediately below the tail of the caudate nucleus, the next portion of the lateral edge is formed by the comparatively narrow stria terminalis, which sits upon the superior thalamostriate vein. The main part of the fornix of the brain forms the next narrow portion of the lateral boundary, which is completed medially by a choroid plexus, which serves both ventricles.
Trigone of lateral ventricle
The trigone of the lateral ventricle is the area where the part of the body forms a junction with the inferior horn and the posterior horn. This area is referred to as the atrium of the lateral ventricle, and is where the choroid plexus is enlarged as the choroid glomus. As a triangular surface feature of the floor of this part of the lateral ventricle it is known as the collateral trigone.
Posterior horn of lateral ventricle
The posterior horn of lateral ventricle, or occipital horn, impinges into the occipital lobe in a posterior direction, initially laterally but subsequently curving medially and lilting inferiorly on the lateral side. The tapetum of the Corpus Callosum continues to form the roof, which due to the lilt is also the lateral edge. However, the posterior and anterior ends of the Corpus Callosum are characterised by tighter bundling, known as forceps (due to the resulting shape), to curve around the central sulci; the edge of these forceps form the upper part of the medial side of the posterior horn. The remainder of the medial edge of the ventricle is directly in contact with white matter of the cortex of the occipital lobe.
Inferior horn of lateral ventricle
The inferior horn of the lateral ventricle, or temporal horn, is the largest of the horns. It impinges on the temporal lobe in a lateral and anterior direction, initially inferiorly, until it comes within cm. of the lobe's apex; its direction is fairly well indicated on the brain surface by the superior temporal sulcus. The horn lilts inferiorly towards its lateral edge. As a continuation of the interior side of the ventricular curve, the floor of the body of the ventricle becomes the roof of the inferior horn, hence the tail of the caudate nucleus forms the lateral edge of the inferior horn's roof, until, at the extremity of the ventricle, the caudate nucleus becomes the amygdala. The stria terminalis forms the remainder of the roof, which is much narrower than at the body - the choroid plexus moves to the medial wall. The tapetum for the temporal lobe comprises the lateral boundary of the inferior horn, on its way to join the main tapetum above the body of the ventricle (passing over the Caudate Nucleus as it does so). The majority of the inferior horn's floor is formed by the fimbria hippocampi (from which the fornix emerges), and then, more anteriorly, by the hippocampus itself. As with the posterior horn, the remainder of the boundary - in this case the lateral side of the floor - is directly in contact with the white matter of the surrounding lobe.
The lateral ventricles, similarly to other parts of the ventricular system of the brain, develop from the central canal of the neural tube. Specifically, the lateral ventricles originate from the portion of the tube that is present in the developing prosencephalon, and subsequently in the developing telencephalon. During the first three months of prenatal development, the central canal expands into lateral, third, and fourth ventricles, connected by thinner channels. In the lateral ventricles, specialized areas – choroid plexuses – appear, which produce cerebrospinal fluid. The neural canal that does not expand and remains the same at the level of the midbrain superior to the fourth ventricle forms the cerebral aqueduct. The fourth ventricle narrows at the obex (in the caudal medulla), to become the central canal of the spinal cord.
During development, pressure from exterior structures causes a number of concave bulges to form within the lateral ventricles, which can be extremely variable in their degree of development; in some individuals they are ill-defined, while in others they can be prominent:
- from the forceps against the posterior horn - creating the bulb of the posterior cornu on the upper medial side of the horn
- from the calcarine sulcus against the posterior horn - creating the calcar avis (historically called the hippocampus minor, for visual reasons) on the lower medial side of the horn
- from the hippocampus against the inferior horn (on the medial floor of the horn)
- from the collateral sulcus against the inferior horn - creating the Collateral eminence on the lateral floor of the horn.
Fetal lateral ventricles may be diagnosed using linear or planar measurements.
The volume of the lateral ventricles are known to increase with age. They are also enlarged in a number of neurological conditions and are on average larger in patients with schizophrenia,bipolar disorder,major depressive disorder and Alzheimer's disease.
Asymmetry as an anatomical variation, in the size of the lateral ventricles is found in about 5–12% of the population. This has been associated with handedness, where right-handed people have been found to have a larger right lateral ventricle and a longer left posterior horn, whereas left-handed people have been found to have longer right posterior horns. A severe asymmetry, or an asymmetry with midline shift or diffuse enlargement, may indicate brain injury early in life, particularly in cases of a longer right posterior horn.
If the production of cerebrospinal fluid is bigger than its reabsorption, or if its circulation is blocked – the ventricles may enlarge and cause hydrocephalus.
Calcification of the choroid plexus can occur, usually in the atrium.
Position of lateral ventricles (shown in red).
Drawing of a cast of the ventricular cavities, viewed from above.
This article uses anatomical terminology.
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- ^Nestor, S; Rupsingh, R; Borrie, M; Smith, M; Accomazzi, V; Wells, J; Fogarty, J; Bartha, R (). "Ventricular Enlargement as a Surrogate Marker of Alzheimer Disease Progression Validated Using ADNI". Brain. (9): – doi/brain/awn PMC PMID
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All of the bodys processes occur in a systematic and sequential order, ensuring that every work of the body is completed as perfectly as possible. This necessitates precise processing and appropriate handling of the sensory input received by the organs and tissues, implying a highly functioning brain. Because the human brain is so vital and delicate, it is encased in a bony protective shell to protect it from harm. The brain is also shielded by three meningeal layers: the dura mater, the arachnoid mater, and the pia mater. Despite all of those layers, there is still a region around the brain that is vulnerable to harm.
As a result, this area is filled with clear fluid, suspending the brain within the cranium. The fluid is known as Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is produced by the brains ventricle system. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is contained in four voids in the brain: two lateral ventricles, a third ventricle, and a fourth ventricle.
The lateral ventricles of the brain are detailed in this article. Their location, anatomical formation, role within the brain area and function in brain protection are all explained. This article also briefly discusses the complications associated with the lateral ventricles of the brain.
- Each lateral ventricle is a C-shaped chamber located deep within the cerebral cortex
- The ventricular walls are made up of the corpus callosum, caudate nucleus, thalamus, fornix, septum pellucidum, hippocampus, amygdala, and deep cerebral white matter
- A posterior, inferior and anterior horn form the structural components of the lateral ventricles
- The lateral ventricles posterior (occipital) horn continues posteromedially into the area of the occipital lobe and, like the rest of the lateral ventricle, has a top, lateral wall, and medial wall.
- The far more anterior portion of the corpus callosum trunk forms the roof, whereas the top of the caudate nucleus forms the floor
- The top side of the corpus callosums rostrum forms a little portion of the floor towards the midline. The septum pellucidum forms the medial wall.
- The lateral ventricles have a roof, a bottom layer and median walls
- Like the rest of the ventricles of the brain, the lateral ventricles help provide a fluid-filled cavity for the brain and submerge it for its protection, manufacture cerebrospinal fluid and help circulate it
- Ventriculomegaly, hydrocephalus and tumours are some of the clinical complications that concern the lateral ventricles of the brain
- Ventriculomegaly is a disorder that causes the lateral ventricle to develop improperly. It is linked to mental illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, hydrocephalus, bipolar disorder and many more
Each lateral ventricle is a chamber in the shape of a C and is present deep within the cerebral cortex. As the lateral ventricle loops around the thalamus, or central core of the brain, other components within the ventricle, such as the choroidal fissure, fornix, caudate nucleus, and choroid plexus, take on a C shape. Each lateral ventricle is made up of five sections: the frontal horn, the body, the atrium, the occipital horn, and the temporal horn.
The corpus callosum, caudate nucleus, thalamus, fornix, septum pellucidum, hippocampus, amygdala, and deep cerebral white matter constitute the ventricular walls.
On either part of the cerebral hemispheres, there are two lateral ventricles. They connect with the third ventricle on the inferior side via the interventricular foramen. The anterior horn, or initial part, is the section of the lateral ventricle anterior to the foramen. This is followed by the central section. The central parts front, middle, and back are designated second, third, and fourth, correspondingly. The fourth segment of the ventricle splits into the fifth, also known as the posterior horn, and the sixth, known as the inferior horn. The frontal, temporal, and occipital lobes include the anterior, inferior, and posterior horns, respectively.
The lateral ventricles central portion is anteroposteriorly extended. It connects with the anterior horn at the anterior side at the position of the interventricular foramen. The body eventually approaches the splenium of the corpus callosum.
It has a triangular cross-section with a roof, floor, and medial wall, with the top surface layer and bottom surface meeting on the lateral aspects.
The trunk of the corpus callosum forms the top surface layer.
The septum pellucidum and the body of the fornix, which is shared by two lateral ventricles, create the medial wall.
The bottom layer is primarily created medially by the superior layer of the thalamus and on the lateral side by a structure known as the caudate nucleus. The stria terminalis and thalamostriate veins are located between these two structural components.
Posterior or occipital horn of the lateral ventricles:
The lateral ventricles posterior (occipital) horn continues posteromedially into the area of the occipital lobe and, like the rest of the lateral ventricle, has a top, lateral wall, and medial wall.
The tapetum forms the ceiling and lateral walls, whereas the medial wall has two peaks, one inferior and one superior, and is known as the calcar avis.
A feature known as the bulb of the posterior horn is located above those altitudes. This bulb is created by fibres of the forceps major running towards the back direction from the corpus callosums splenium.
Anterior or frontal horn of the lateral ventricles:
The anterior (also known as the frontal) horn of the lateral ventricle is isolated from the centre half by an imagined vertical path that passes at the position of the interventricular foramen. This addition features a triangle cross-section and a roof, medial wall and a base layer or floor. The corpus callosums genu and rostrum help to shut it off on the anterior end.
The far more anterior portion of the corpus callosum trunk forms the roof, whereas the top of the caudate nucleus forms the floor. The top side of the corpus callosums rostrum forms a little portion of the floor towards the midline. The septum pellucidum forms the medial wall.
Inferior or temporal horn of the lateral ventricles:
The hippocampus, along with the alveus and fimbriae, composes the majority of the base of the inferior horn. The collateral eminence is uplift in the lateral region of the surface caused by the inner folding of the white mater that lays deep to the collateral sulcus.
The lateral section of the roof (lateral wall) is made up of tapetum fibres, whereas the medial portion is made up of the caudate nucleus tail and the stria terminalis. From the base of the central portion, these components continue through the top layer of the inferior horn. The caudate nucleus tail and the stria terminalis cease on the anterior side of the amygdaloid complex, which is present in the most anterior portion of the top surface layer of the lateral ventricles.
The lateral ventricles significant aspect is the inferior (temporal) horn. It goes anteroinferiorly into the temporal lobe from the posterior end of the central area. It has an anterior edge that is adjacent to the cerebrums uncus, a base, and a top surface layer/roof. The inferior horns roof is mostly produced by the tapetum of the corpus callosum and the cauda of the caudate nucleus.
The inferior horn features a small hollow in cross-section that is bordered on the top and laterally by the top, and beneath it and medially by the base.
This arrangement is the reason why the lateral section of the ceiling is known as the lateral wall, while the medial part of the floor is known as the medial wall.
Cerebrospinal fluid is produced by the ventricle covering (CSF). The cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is then absorbed in the subarachnoid region after passing through the ventricular system.
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is thought to have several key roles in the brain. It helps to make the brain buoyant, reducing the stress and agony that gravity and movements could otherwise produce.
The reality is that if the brain is not maintained in some form of a liquid phase, it will become altered and twisted beneath its bodily mass, and sensitive tissue cells will begin to rip and be harmed. The barrier of Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that covers the brain also acts as a barrier against potential hazards connected with mechanical stress or any other type of applied force, such as if a person falls. Another example would be, if a person falls and harms their head severely, or if they are beaten and a blunt force is applied to the head.
Moreover, as Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) passes across the brain, it transfers poisonous compounds as well as other waste materials and substances into the bloodstream, where they are then discharged by processes such as the kidneys filtration system. Regardless of pressure fluctuations within the ventricles, the rate of Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) production in the ventricles stays constant.
If the flow of Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is impeded at any point or site in the ventricular system, it might be a problem. Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) will continue to be available and produced, but it will be unable to leave the platform.
As a result, the stress inside the ventricles would rise, and the increasing pressure may effectively cause the ventricles to enlarge. The expanding ventricles may then clash with other brain regions, leading to a variety of health complications (based on where the blockage occurred and which structures or tissues are most influenced by this expansion). When this occurs in children whose skulls have not fully ossified (typically under the age of 2), the head may enlarge.
When CSF is produced in the lateral ventricle, it fills the cavity before passing through the interventricular foramen of Monro and entering the third ventricle. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) produced in the third ventricle departs the area via the Sylvius cerebral aqueduct and enters the fourth ventricle in addition to CSF produced in the lateral ventricle.
The lateral ventricles are the biggest of the brains four interconnected chambers that are filled with fluid. The cerebral ventricular system is made up of these chambers and their interconnected passages.
The third and fourth ventricles are the systems other two cavities, while the cerebral aqueduct of Sylvius is one of the interconnecting systems that guarantee interaction between the third and fourth ventricles. The ventricles job is to hold the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and provide a pathway for its movement.
Complications involving the lateral ventricles of the brain:
A CT scan can be used to determine the volume of the lateral ventricles and other structures within the brain. Physicians can use the scan to determine not just the length of the ventricles, but also the density of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) they hold. This data can be utilized to prevent and manage brain disorders such as hydrocephalus, which is an excessive accumulation of fluid in the ventricle.
Ventriculomegaly is a disorder that causes the lateral ventricle to develop improperly. It is linked to mental illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, hydrocephalus, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia as well as brain disorders related to movements such as Huntingtons disease and Parkinsons disease.
The explanation of ventriculomegaly is uncertain, but it is extremely debated that atrophy of structural components present around the lateral ventricles, as well as a decrease in the amount of the nearby periventricular structures, may be major factors responsible, allowing the ventricles to broaden and fill in the region.
One possibility is a stoppage of venous blood or Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) circulation which leads to an increase in the volume of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the ventricles. A further explanation is that mechanical pressure and shear pressures cause injury and atrophy of surrounding structures that encircle the ventricles.
A few of the hypothesized reasons for deformation and shear stresses include venous blood and Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flow obstruction, venous back pressure, anomalous pressure waves, and pounding-type waves known as water hammers.
Tumours of the lateral ventricles:
Tumours of the lateral and third ventricles constitute a special problem to neurosurgeons due to their deep placement and proximity to critical neuronal and circulatory systems. Supratentorial and infratentorial intraventricular tumours are frequent in kids, accounting for roughly 41% of lateral and third ventricular tumours. However, only 7 per cent of occurrences are in the older population.
In adults, nearly half of all intraventricular mass lesions are situated in the lateral ventricle, however, in kids, the ratio is significantly smaller. Intraventricular mass lesions are caused by a wide range of benign and malignant malignancies. In the elder age group, the most common lateral ventricle tumours comprise astrocytoma, meningioma, glioblastoma, ependymoma, and choroid plexus papilloma.
In comparison, the most common lateral ventricle cancers in children include subependymal giant cell astrocytoma, ependymal, choroid plexus papilloma, choroid plexus carcinoma and astrocytoma.
Although numerous surgical methods can be used to access intraventricular lesions, surgical excision remains the primary treatment method for lateral and third ventricular malignancies.
The surgical technique is determined mostly by the position, length, and nature of the lesion; the surface area of the ventricles; the tumours proximity to the third ventricle; vascularity; venous outflow; and the lesions connection to nearby tissues.
While transcortical or transcallosal methods can yield in full tumour excision, they are linked with an elevated risk of brain parenchymal damage.
Hydrocephalus is a condition characterised by excessive cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) production and ventricular size expansion or enlargement, also known as water on the brain’. A hydrocephalus-causing blockage can be caused by several reasons, including a tumour, infection, or congenital abnormalities.
Hydrocephalus is commonly treated by surgically placing a shunt that drains excess Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from the ventricles into the abdominal cavity. This treatment has the potential to be effective; but, if the reason for the obstruction is not addressed, more surgical procedures may be required to resolve this issue.
These include procedures such as the replacement of an overgrown shunt or the treatment of an infected shunt.
Each lateral ventricle is a C-shaped chamber located deep within the cerebral cortex. Other ventricle components, such as the choroidal fissure, fornix, caudate nucleus, and choroid plexus, take on a C shape when the lateral ventricle loops around the thalamus, or central core of the brain. The structural components of the lateral ventricles are a posterior, inferior, and anterior horn. There is a roof, a bottom layer, and median walls in the lateral ventricles. The lateral ventricles, like the rest of the brains ventricles, help provide a fluid-filled compartment for the brain and immerse it for safety, as well as produce and circulate cerebrospinal fluid. Ventriculomegaly, hydrocephalus and tumours are some of the clinical complications that concern the lateral ventricles of the brain.
- Chaichana, K. and Quiñones-Hinojosa, A. () Comprehensive overview of modern surgical approaches to intrinsic brain tumors. London, United Kingdom: Academic Press. Available at: https://books.google.com.pk/books?id=erKKDwAAQBAJ.
- Crossman, A.R. and Neary, D. () Neuroanatomy: An illustrated colour text. illustrated by Ben Crossman. 4th edn. (Illustrated Colour Text). Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier. Available at: https://doctorlib.info/anatomy/neuroanatomy-illustrated-colour-text/6.html (Accessed: 20 July ).
- Elwatidy, S.M. et al. () ‘Tumors of the lateral and third ventricle: surgical management and outcome analysis in 42 cases’, Neurosciences (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia), 22(4), pp. – doi: /nsj
- Okpe, O. () Lateral Ventricles: Anatomy and Function. Available at: https://www.kenhub.com/en/library/anatomy/lateral-ventricles (Accessed: 20 July ).
- ThoughtCo () Ventricles of the Brain, 20 July. Available at: https://www.thoughtco.com/ventricular-system-of-the-brain (Accessed: 20 July ).
The Anatomy of the Brain Ventricles
You have four brain ventricles—cavities within the brain that produce and store cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). This liquid surrounds your brain and spinal cord, cushioning them and protecting them from trauma. It is also responsible for removing waste and delivering nutrients to your brain.
Your brain ventricles are essential to maintaining your central nervous system (CNS), which your brain and spinal cord comprise. The CNS is where information is processed in the body so that functions from temperature regulation to thought, movement, and much more can be controlled.
This article takes a closer look at the anatomy and functions of the brain ventricles. It also contains information about health conditions related to your ventricular system and how those conditions are diagnosed.
Your brain's ventricular system is comprised of four ventricles as well as small structures that connect each ventricle called foramina.
The first and second ventricles are lateral ventricles. These C-shaped structures are located on each side of your cerebral cortex, the wrinkly outer layer of your brain.
The third ventricle is a narrow, funnel-shaped structure situated between your right and left thalamus, just above your brainstem.
The fourth ventricle is a diamond-shaped structure that runs alongside your brainstem. It has four openings through which cerebrospinal fluid drains into an area surrounding your brain (subarachnoid space) and the central canal of your spinal cord.
CSF takes the following route through the four ventricles:
- The walls of the lateral ventricles and the roofs of the third and fourth ventricles are lined with a layer of specialized tissue known as the choroid plexus. It's within the choroid plexus that CSF is produced.
- CSF passes from the lateral ventricles, through two holes called the interventricular foramina, and into the third ventricle.
- From there, CSF passes through a connecting structure called the cerebral aqueduct and into the fourth ventricle.
- CSF exits the fourth ventricle and drains into the subarachnoid space. CSF also passes through a structure called the obex before draining into the central canal of the spinal cord.
The average adult has about milliliters (mL) of CSF circulating their ventricles and subarachnoid space at any given time.
Your brain has four ventricles that produce cerebrospinal fluid. This fluid drains from your fourth ventricle into a canal surrounding your brain and spinal cord.
Ventricular System: Anatomy, Function, and Treatment
Aside from cerebrospinal fluid, your brain ventricles are hollow. Their sole function is to produce and secrete cerebrospinal fluid to protect and maintain your central nervous system.
CSF is constantly bathing the brain and spinal column, clearing out toxins and waste products released by nerve cells. One such waste product—the amyloid A-b peptide—increases the risk of Alzheimer's disease if too much accumulates in the brain.
In addition, cerebrospinal fluid serves a number of other important functions:
- Shock absorption: When you fall, get into a car accident, or otherwise knock your head, the CFS encasing your brain absorbs the shock so that your brain does not smack against your skull.
- Nutrition: CSF supplies your central nervous system with essential nutrients, such as glucose, proteins, lipids, and electrolytes.
- Intracranial pressure: A steady flow of CSF keeps the pressure around your brain stable. Too much CSF, possibly due to a traumatic brain injury or brain tumor, raises intracranial pressure.
- Waste removal: CSF washes through your subarachnoid space, cleaning up toxins and waste products, which are then carried to your lymphatic ducts for filtration.
- Temperature: CSF circulation keeps the temperature of your brain and spine stable.
- Immune function: CSF contains numerous immune cells that monitor your central nervous system for foreign agents that could damage your vital organs.
Infection, head trauma, and bleeding in the brain can cause inflammation in the ventricles and subarachnoid space. That inflammation blocks the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, causing the ventricles to swell in size and placing pressure on the brain.
The following ventricle-related conditions are life threatening. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described below, call or have someone take you to the nearest ER right away.
Hydrocephalus is a life-threatening medical condition in which cerebrospinal fluid gets blocked and builds up in the ventricles or subarachnoid space. As a result, pressure within the skull increases and the ventricles enlarge.
Hydrocephalus can be present at birth due to a genetic or developmental abnormality. It can also develop due to a brain or spinal chord tumor, a stroke or head trauma that causes bleeding in the brain, or an infection like bacterial meningitis.
There are two primary types of hydrocephalus:
- Communicating hydrocephalus: In which CFS becomes blocked in the subarachnoid space after it exits the ventricles
- Non-communicating hydrocephalus: In which CFS becomes blocked in one or more of the structures that connect the ventricles
Any person of any age can get hydrocephalus, but it is most common in infants and adults ages 60 and older. Symptoms of hydrocephalus vary slightly among age groups.
In infants, symptoms of hydrocephalus include:
- The infant's head rapidly gets grows in size
- The soft spot on the top of their head bulges
- They have trouble sucking or feeding
In older adults, the symptoms include:
- Difficulty walking, balancing or lifting their feet
- Rapid dementia or cognitive impairments
- Inability to hold their bladder
In all other age groups, the symptoms of hydrocephalus can include:
- Vision changes
- Difficulty walking or talking
- Trouble staying awake
- Personality changes
- Memory loss
Shunt Placement: Treatment for Hydrocephalus
The subarachnoid space is lined with membranes known as the meninges. Meningitis develops when this lining, along with cerebrospinal fluid, becomes infected and inflamed.
Meningitis can be caused by bacterial, viral, parasitic, or fungal infections, but the most serious form is bacterial meningitis.
Bacterial meningitis can block the flow of CSF in the subarachnoid space and in the ventricles, ultimately resulting in hydrocephalus.
The symptoms of meningitis tend to come on very quickly and can include:
- Fever and chills
- Stiff neck
- Sensitivity to light
- Nausea or vomiting
How Meningitis Is Diagnosed
The choroid plexus in your ventricles contains of layer of tissue known as the ependymal lining. Ventriculitis occurs when this lining becomes inflamed due to meningitis, head trauma, or a complication of brain surgery.
Symptoms of ventriculitis mimic meningitis and can include:
- Fever and chills
- Stiff neck
A stroke, ruptured aneurysm, or traumatic brain injury can cause bleeding in the subarachnoid space or ventricles. These injuries are known as subarachnoid hemorrhage or intraventricular hemorrhage, respectively.
Both types of brain hemorrhage can result in hydrocephalus as blood clots form and block the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in and around the brain ventricles.
Symptoms of brain hemorrhage come on suddenly and can include:
- A severe headache that peaks within seconds
- Stiff neck
- Blurred or double vision
- Slurred speech
- Weakness on one side of your body
- Light sensitivity
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of consciousness
If you suspect you have a brain hemorrhage, hydrocephalus, meningitis, or ventriculitis—all of which affect the ventricles—you need to get medical attention as soon as possible. These conditions are immediately life-threatening.
How Stroke Is Diagnosed
Hydrocephalus, meningitis, ventriculitis, and brain hemorrhage are diagnosed using one or more of the following:
Lumbar puncture (LP), also called a spinal tap, can be used to measure pressure within the spinal canal. It is also used to test cerebrospinal fluid for signs of infection, inflammation, or hemorrhage.
To perform a lumbar puncture, your doctor will numb your lower spine. A needle will then be inserted in the numbed area to measure cerebrospinal fluid pressure and collect a sample for testing.
A spinal tap is often quite important for diagnosing central nervous system diseases. For instance, in a subarachnoid hemorrhage, a CT may be normal, but the lumbar puncture will reveal if there is blood in the cerebrospinal fluid.
Imaging tests and lumbar puncture are used to diagnose injuries and diseases in the brain ventricles. A lumbar puncture will reveal if there is blood inside the spinal cord, which may point to a brain hemorrhage. It can also test for signs of infection.
How CSF Is Analyzed
Cerebrospinal fluid is produced in the lining of your brain's ventricles. After it drains from these four chambers, CFS circulates in the canals that surround your brain and spinal cord, ensuring your central nervous system is nourished and protected.
Traumatic brain injury, bacterial meningitis, and brain hemorrhage can cause inflammation in and around your ventricles. As a result, the flow of cerebrospinal fluid can get blocked and cause the ventricles to swell in size.
Medical conditions that affect the ventricles are often life threatening. It is vital that you get treatment immediately if you notice any related symptoms.
A Word From Verywell
If you or a loved one has survived one of these conditions, consider joining a support group online or in your community. Support groups can be invaluable for many survivors, as they offer a safe place to share personal stories and ask for advice from people who understand what you're going through.
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Ventricle right function lateral
The Ventricular System
The cerebral ventricles are a series of interconnected, fluid-filled spaces that lie in the core of the forebrain and brainstem (Figure ). The presence of ventricular spaces in the various subdivisions of the brain reflects the fact that the ventricles are the adult derivatives of the open space or lumen of the embryonic neural tube (see Chapter 22). Although they have no unique function, the ventricular spaces present in sections through the brain provide another useful guide to location. The largest of these spaces are the lateral ventricles (one within each of the cerebral hemispheres). These particular ventricles are best seen in frontal sections, where their ventral surface is usually defined by the basal ganglia, their dorsal surface by the corpus callosum, and their medial surface by the septum pellucidum, a membranous tissue sheet that forms part of the midline sagittal surface of the cerebral hemispheres. The third ventricle forms a narrow midline space between the right and left thalamus, and communicates with the lateral ventricles through a small opening at the anterior end of the third ventricle (called the interventricular foramen). The third ventricle is continuous caudally with the cerebral aqueduct, which runs though the midbrain. At its caudal end, the aqueduct opens into the fourth ventricle, a larger space in the dorsal pons and medulla. The fourth ventricle narrows caudally to form the central canal of the spinal cord. The ventricles are filled with cerebrospinal fluid, and the lateral, third, and fourth ventricles are the site of the choroid plexus, which produces this fluid. The cerebrospinal fluid percolates through the ventricular system and flows into the subarachnoid space through perforations in the thin covering of the fourth ventricle; it is eventually absorbed by specialized structures called arachnoid villi or granulations (see Figure ), and returned to the venous circulation.
The ventricular system of the human brain. (A) Location of the ventricles as seen in a transparent left lateral view. (B) Table showing the ventricular spaces associated with each of the major subdivisions of the brain. (See Chapter 22 for an account (more)
The meninges. Upper left panel is a midsagittal view showing the three layers of the meninges in relation to the skull and brain. Right panels are blowups to show detail.
The Ventricles of the Brain
The ventricular system is a set of communicating cavities within the brain. These structures are responsible for the production, transport and removal of cerebrospinal fluid, which bathes the central nervous system.
In this article, we shall look at the functions and production of cerebrospinal fluid, and the anatomy of the ventricles that contains it.
Functions of Cerebrospinal Fluid
Cerebrospinal fluid is an ultrafiltrate of plasma that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.
It serves three main functions:
- Protection - acts as a cushion for the brain, limiting neural damage in cranial injuries.
- Buoyancy - by being immersed in CSF, the net weight of the brain is reduced to approximately 25 grams. This prevents excessive pressure on the base of the brain.
- Chemical stability - the CSF creates an environment to allow for proper functioning of the brain, e.g. maintaining low extracellular K+ for synaptic transmission.
Ventricles of the Brain
The ventricles are structures that produce cerebrospinal fluid, and transport it around the cranial cavity. They are lined by ependymal cells, which form a structure called the choroid plexus. It is within the choroid plexus that CSF is produced.
Embryologically, the ventricular system is derived from the lumen of the neural tube.
In total, there are four ventricles; right and left lateral ventricles, third ventricle and fourth ventricle.
The left and right lateral ventricles are located within their respective hemispheres of the cerebrum. They have 'horns' which project into the frontal, occipital and temporal lobes. The volume of the lateral ventricles increases with age.
The lateral ventricles are connected to the third ventricle by the foramen of Monro. The third ventricle is situated in between the right and the left thalamus. The anterior surface of the ventricle contains two protrusions:
- Supra-optic recess - located above the optic chiasm.
- Infundibular recess - located above the optic stalk.
The fourth ventricle is the last in the system - it receives CSF from the third ventricle via the cerebral aqueduct. It lies within the brainstem, at the junction between the pons and medulla oblongata.
From the 4th ventricle, the fluid drains into two places:
- Central spinal canal - bathes the spinal cord
- Subarachnoid cisterns - bathes the brain, between arachnoid mater and pia mater. Here the CSF is reabsorbed back into the circulation.
Production and Reabsorption of Cerebrospinal Fluid
Cerebrospinal fluid is produced by the choroid plexus, located in the lining of the ventricles. It consists of capillaries and loose connective tissue, surrounded by cuboidal epithelial cells. Plasma is filtered from the blood by the epithelial cells to produce CSF. In this way, the exact chemical composition of the fluid can be controlled.
Drainage of the CSF occurs in the subarachnoid cisterns (or space). Small projections of arachnoid mater (arachnoid granulations) protrude into the dura mater. They allow the fluid to drain into the dural venous sinuses.
Clinical Relevance: Hydrocephalus
Hydrocephalus is defined as an abnormal collection of cerebrospinal fluid within the ventricles of the brain. It is a serious condition, with chronic hydrocephalus causing raised intracranial pressure, and consequently cerebral atrophy.
Based on the underlying cause, there are two clinical classifications:
- Communicating (Non-obstructive) Hydrocephalus - Abnormal collection of CSF in the absence of any flow obstruction in the ventricles. Common causes usually involve the functional impairment of the arachnoid granulations, such as fibrosis of the subarachnoid space following a haemorrhage.
- Non-communicating (Obstructive) Hydrocephalus - Abnormal collection of CSF, with flow obstructed within the ventricular system. The most common site of obstruction is the cerebral aqueduct, connecting the third and fourth ventricles. [caption id="attachment_" align="aligncenter" width=""]Fig 5 - Hydrocephalus on a CT scan.[/caption]
There is also a third classification, hydrocephalus ex vacuo - this refers to ventricular expansion, secondary to brain atrophy. This is often seen in patients with neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease.
Treatment of hydrocephalus primarily involves reversing the cause. Whilst treating the cause, a shunt can be inserted, which drains the fluid into the right atrium or the peritoneum.
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