Did you know?

In Hydrocephaly there is a build-up of Cerebro Spinal Fluid (CSF) in the ventricles of the brain. The fluid is under increased pressure which can cause compression of the brain and thus damage to the brain. This can occur before birth or any time after. Hydrocephalus affects 1 in 500 children.

Causes of Hydrocephaly:

These are not fully understood. It could be an inherited genetic abnormality or a developmental disorder which causes a physical obstruction to the flow of the CSF in the ventricular system, haemorrhage in the brain, infections like meningitis, tumours or head injury.

Signs and Symptoms of Hydrocephaly:

In babies a rapidly increasing circumference of the head, an abnormally large head, vomiting, drowsiness, seizures, irritability.

In older children and adults where the skull cannot expand, the signs could be headache, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, double vision, poor balance, delayed development, poor co-ordination, urinary incontinence, lethargy, irritability and memory loss.

Treatment and Management:

Hydrocephalus poses risks to both cognitive and physical development. Early intervention to control the pressure of the CSF is essential. A shunt is inserted as soon as possible to relieve the pressure in the brain. A shunt consists of a plastic tube with a one-way valve which is inserted from the ventricular system in the brain to the abdomen and allows the excess CSF to drain. The shunt needs to be reviewed regularly by the attending medical specialist. As the child grows the system needs to be lengthened. It can also become blocked or infected. If there are any signs of increased pressure as listed above, medical attention must be sought.

The child must have an early intervention programme including rehabilitation physiotherapy, occupational and speech therapy if there are signs of intellectual and/or physical impairment.

A specially adapted education programme may be necessary. Many children who are diagnosed and treated early can go on to live normal lives with few limitations.