Hydrocephalus is a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the hollow places inside
These hollow places are called ventricles. The buildup of CSF can put pressure on
Treatments for hydrocephalus (hi-droh-SEF-eh-less) usually can lower the amount
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Hydrocephalus?
Signs and symptoms of hydrocephalus in babies and children can include:
eyes that stay looking down
Babies younger than 1 year old still have their "soft spot" because
their skull bones have not fully grown together yet. In them, hydrocephalus usually
leads to bulging at the soft spot, increasing head size, and large scalp veins.
Older children with hydrocephalus usually complain of headache.
Who Gets Hydrocephalus?
A child can:
be born with hydrocephalus (called congenital hydrocephalus)
get it later (called acquired hydrocephalus)
Hydrocephalus can run in families.
How Does Hydrocephalus Happen?
Cerebrospinal fluid is saltwater that's made inside the ventricles. It flows around
the brain and spinal cord, cushioning them. It also sends nutrients to the brain and
takes away waste. Then it's absorbed into the bloodstream, and new, fresh CSF takes
Hydrocephalus can happen if:
The flow of CSF is blocked (called obstructive hydrocephalus).
Not enough CSF is absorbed into the bloodstream (called communicating
What Causes Hydrocephalus?
Causes of hydrocephalus include:
when a baby's spinal cord does not fully develop
aqueductal stenosis: when CSF flow between the ventricles inside the brain is
Treatment for hydrocephalus depends on the child's age and what's causing the hydrocephalus.
Treatments may include one of these surgeries:
(VP) shunt surgery: Doctors place a tube from the brain's ventricles
to the peritoneal cavity, the space inside the belly where the stomach and the bowels
sit. The tube is all inside the body under the skin. After it gets to the belly, the
extra CSF is absorbed into the bloodstream. Shunts are replaced:
over time as a child grows and needs a bigger shunt
if they get infected or stop working
Endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) surgery: A tiny hole made
in the bottom of the ventricle lets the extra CSF drain out of the brain. Then, it's
absorbed into the bloodstream.
Kids also might need therapy for slowed development, such as: