Hydrocephalus is a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the skull causes the brain to swell. Inside the brain there are hollow places. These hollow places are called ventricles. The buildup of CSF can put pressure on the brain. This can lead to developmental, physical, and intellectual impairments. The accumulation of CSF occurs due to either an increase in production of the fluid, a decrease in its rate of absorption or from a condition that blocks its normal flow through the ventricular system.
- Obstruction of the normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid, either from one ventricle to another or from the ventricles to other spaces around the brain.
- Inadequate absorption or due to an abnormal increase in the quantity of CSF produced.
- Infection during pregnancy
- Bleeding in the brain (from a stroke or brain injury)
- A brain tumor
- Infection in the brain: meningitis
- Prematurely born babies
- Sign and Symptoms
- A rapid increase in the size of the head
- A bulging or tense soft spot (fontanel) on the top of the head
- Eyes fixed downward (sun setting of the eyes)
- Deficits in muscle tone and strength
- Poor responsiveness to touch
- Shunt: To divert the excess CSF away from the brain. The shunt is a flexible tube which, along with a catheter and a valve, is placed under the skin to drain excess CSF from a ventricle.
- Ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt: VP shunts drain the extra fluid and help prevent pressure from getting too high in the brain.
- Ventriculostomy: ventriculostomy can be performed as an alternative to having a shunt inserted. This involves making a hole at the bottom of a ventricle or in between ventricles. This allows CSF to leave the brain.