What is Hydrocephalus?

Hydrocephalus is an abnormal buildup of the brain's cerebrospinal fluid. Cerebrospinal fluid is the water-like fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. It provides a cushion and nutrients, and also carrying out wastes.

Who has the chances of being a victim of Hydrocephalus?

Hydrocephalus is not hereditary but is either commonly found at birth or acquired as a result of an injury or accident.

What are the symptoms of Hydrocephalus?

Regardless of the cause of hydrocephalus, increased intracranial pressure in the skull causes a common set of signs and symptoms that vary depending on the age and physical condition of the patient.

  • In newborns or young infants, the head may enlarge or the fontalle (soft spot) may bulge because the cranium is not yet solidified and will expand due to the increased pressure. However before such dramatic head growth is apparent, prominent scalp veins, vomiting and irritability may be observed.
  • In older children and adults with a developed and solidified cranium, the symptoms of hydrocephalus may include personality changes, headache, vomiting, lethargy, irritability, and a loss of interest in daily activities. Gait disturbance and disrupted coordination may occur.

Because increased pressure has a direct impact on the optic nerves, patients often experience vision problems. The excess pressure may also have a direct bearing on the hypothalmus that can alter growth and sexual development. Fluid and electrolyte imbalance may also occur.

How is Hydrocephalus diagnosed?

It is diagnosed by Computerized Tomography (CT) or

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). These test accurately measure the size of the fluid spaces, and ventricles, in the skull.

Depending on the circumstance, another test may be used.

What are the two forms of Hydrocephalus?

1. Non-communicating hydrocephalus is caused by a blockage in the ventricular pathway through which the CSF flows.
2. Communicating hydrocephalus is caused by the poor absorption of CSF when the pathways are not obstructed. 

What are the ways to treat Hydrocephalus?

The most common way is the surgical diversion of the excess fluid by placing a synthetic tube (shunt- a tube that diverts the excess fluid from the expanded brain cavity or ventricle to another part of the body. This procedure re-directs the fluid to another body cavity such as the abdomen. In most cases, the fluid is diverted to the peritoneal cavity in the abdomen or one of the chambers of the heart.) into the ventricle.

A Third Ventriculostomy is also another way to treat Hydrocephalus. It is a one-time procedure; unlike shunt surgeries which in most cases are numerous. A Third Ventriculostomy consists of creating a small hole, about one millimeter in diameter in the wall of the third ventricle. This allows the CSF to once again flow. A Third Ventriculostomy is not available for all people with hydrocephalus.


What are the common medical conditions of Hydrocephalus?
  • Arachnoid Cysts
  • Brain Injury
  • Dandy-Walker Syndrome
  • Head Trauma
  • Meningitis
  • Porencephaly
  • Tumors
  • Spina Bifida
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