What is Hydrocephalus?
Hydrocephalus is an abnormal accumulation of fluid-cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF-within cavities called ventricles inside the brain.  CSF is produced by the ventricles, circlulates through the ventricular system in the brain and is absorbed into the bloodstream.  Hydrocephalus occurs when there is an imbalance between the amount of CSF that is produced and the rate at which it is absorbed.  As the CSF builds up, it causes the ventricles to enlarge and the pressure inside the head to increase.

Approximately 85-90 percent of individuals with spina bifida have hydrocephalus.

How is Hydrocephalus Treated?
There is no known way to prevent or cure hydrocephalus.  To date, the most effective treatment is surgical insertion of a shunt, a flexible tube placed into the ventricular system of the brain which diverts the flow of CSF into another region of the body.  This procedure is performed by a neurosurgeon and the device is permanent.

Endoscopic Third Venticulostomy (ETV) is also a promising technique, where hydrocephalaus may be treated without a shunt.

What are the Effects of Hydrocephalus?
The outcome for most infants and children diagnosed with hydrocephalus is very optimistic.  Few children will have less than normal intelligence, but some children may have physical disabilities or other medical problems.  Shunt malfunctions, infections, developmental delays, learning disabilities and visual problems can occur, therefore parents must become educated about hydrocephalus to insure that their children receive comprehensive on-going quality care. 

Learn more by visiting to the Hydrocephalus Association website at www.hydroassoc.org .