Brain Conditions

What is hydrocephalus?

Hydrocephalus occurs when there is an imbalance between the production, circulation and absorption of cerebral spinal fluid around the brain and spinal cord. This can be quite complex and may result in ventricles (fluid spaces within the brain) enlarging.

There are two types of hydrocephalus:

  • congenital
  • that acquired by infection, tumours or bleeding

What are symptoms of hydrocephalus?

Symptoms of hydrocephalus include:

  • large skull in infants
  • headache
  • nausea
  • affected vision
  • sensitive to noise
  • seizures
  • incontinence
  • affected memory
  • loss of consciousness

How is hydrocephalus treated?

Symptomatic hydrocephalus is usually treated with surgery. Depending on the type of hydrocephalus and its cause, surgery may involve removing a blockage, creating a new pathway for fluid to drain, or placing a shunt to divert the fluid to another body cavity. If left untreated, hydrocephalus can elevate pressure within the brain. This can lead to tissue damage and its sequelae.

If someone is diagnosed with hydrocephalus during an unrelated medical examination but they are not experiencing any symptoms, a neurosurgeon may recommend to keep monitoring it. They will provide surgery if needed.