Jagdish Kathwate
MD Pediatrics. Assistant Professor, Government Medical College, Aurangabad, India.
First Created: 01/03/2001  Last Updated: 08/01/2015

Patient Education

What is Hydrocephalus?

The name literally means “water on the brain.”Hydrocephalus is a condition that occurs when fluid builds up in the skull and causes the brain to swell. Brain damage can occur as a result of fluid buildup. This can lead to impaired developmental, physical, and intellectual functions. It requires treatment to prevent serious complications.

What Causes Hydrocephalus?

  • a blockage that prevents CSF from flowing normally

  • decrease in the ability of blood vessels to absorb it

  • your brain produces an excess amount of it

In some cases, hydrocephalus starts before a baby is born. This can result from:a birth defect in which the spinal column doesn’t close,genetic defects,certain infections that occur during pregnancy, such as rubella.

This condition can also occur in infants, toddlers, and older children due to: central nervous system infections such as meningitis, especially in babies, bleeding in the brain during or shortly after delivery, especially in babies born prematurely, injuries that occur before, during, or after delivery, central nervous system tumors

What are signs of Hydrocephalus in Infants?

Early signs of hydrocephalus in infants include:

  • bulging fontanelle, or soft spot on the surface of the skull
  • rapid increase in head circumference
  • eyes that look down
  • seizures
  • fussiness
  • vomiting
  • sleepiness
  • slow growth
  • trouble eating
  • extreme sleepiness
  • irritability
  • loss of coordination
  • loss of bladder control

How is Hydrocephalus Diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects hydrocephalus in your child, he or she will perform a physical exam to look for signs and symptoms. Your doctor will check for eyes that look sunken in, slow reflexes, bulging fontanelle, and head circumference that is larger than normal. Your doctor might also use an ultrasound to get a closer look at the brain. These use high-frequency sound waves to create images of the brain. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans can be used to look for signs of excess CSF. Computerized tomography (CT) scans can also help diagnose hydrocephalus in children and adults.

How Is Hydrocephalus Treated?

Treatment is absolutely essential. Treatment may not reverse brain damage already done—the goal is to prevent further brain damage. This primarily involves helping CSF flow as it normally should.

Shunt Insertion: In most cases, a shunt is surgically inserted. The shunt is a drainage system made of a long tube with a valve. The valve helps CSF flow at a normal rate and in the right direction. One end of the tube is inserted in the brain, and the other end is typically inserted into the chest or abdomen. Excess fluid then drains from the brain and out the other end of the tube, where it is more easily absorbed. The shunt is typically needed permanently and has to be monitored regularly.

Ventriculostomy: This involves making a hole at the bottom of a ventricle or in between them to allow CSF to leave the brain.

Hydrocephalus Hydrocephalus https://www.pediatriconcall.com/show_article/default.aspx?main_cat=pediatric-neurology&sub_cat=hydrocephalus&url=hydrocephalus-patient-education 2015-08-01
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