Also known as: water on the brain.

What is Hydrocephalus?

The brain and spinal cord are normally surrounded by a fluid produced by vessels (the choroid plexus) in the brain called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). CSF normally flows through the cavities of the brain (ventricles) and circulates around the brain and spinal cord, production being balanced by reabsorption into the bloodstream. Hydrocephalus (hydro means “water” cephalus means the brain) is primarily an excessive accumulation of fluid in the brain. This excess of cerebrospinal fluid accumulation causes the fluid spaces (the ventricles) of the brain to enlarge causing pressure on the surrounding brain.

What causes hydrocephalus?

Experts aren’t exactly sure why some baby’s develop hydrocephalus, but common causes include congenital abnormalities of the CSF pathway (for unknown reasons, genetic abnormalities or development disorders), following a bleed into the brain intraventricular hemorrhage), infections, malformations of the brain or brain tumors. It also appear as a complication of other diseases.

What are the symptoms of hydrocephalus?

Hydrocephalus causes different symptoms in infants than in older children and adults. Infants with hydrocephalus typically have a large head, downward deviation of the eyes (“sun setting” sign), irritability, sleepiness, vomiting and seizures. Older children and adults might experience headache, lethargy, drowsiness, vision problems (blurred or double vision), poor coordination, gait disturbance, nausea and vomiting, trouble with balance and personality changes, among other symptoms.

What are hydrocephalus care options?

Treatment for hydrocephalus depends on the underlying cause but usually involves creating a pathway for the excess fluid to flow out of the head to another area of the body. This is usually done with a “shunt system,” though a treatment called endoscopic third ventriculostomy may also be used in some instances. Sometimes cauterization of the choroid plexus is required.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 9/27/2018 9:11:13 AM

Weekly Support Programs

Brain Wellness: Yoga for Kids

Participants will learn to optimize neurological potential across the developing age and care continuum, to provide other treatment modalities to optimize results, to provide options for our patients and families, to provide options for our patients and families, and more! Learn more.

From the Newsdesk

Fetal Care Center Special Delivery Unit Expected to Open in Summer of 2019
We are pleased to announce the Fetal Care Center’s special delivery unit is expected to open in the summer of 2019. This special delivery unit will offer a smooth transfer of care and access to our network of pediatric subspecialists and our three pediatric intensive care units.
Mason's Story: Nicklaus Children's Makes the Difference for Child with Traumatic Brain Injury
Seeing a baby boy intubated, hooked up to a maze of machines, and with IV pumps snaking out of his tiny arms is an incredibly heartbreaking and terrifying experience. The Nicklaus Children’s staff was not only caring and friendly, but knowledgeable and explained everything to us in detail. Meeting the neurosurgery team brought us great comfort because they were confident and calm—they won our trust immediately.