What is hydrocephalus?

‘Hydrocephalus’ describes conditions in which fluid in the head and spine (Cerebro Spinal Fluid or CSF) accumulates in the head and raises the pressure on the brain.

Hydrocephalus comes from the Greek ‘hydro’ meaning water and ‘cephalie’, meaning brain.

What are the effects of hydrocephalus?

Hydrocephalus can be associated with learning difficulties affecting concentration, reasoning, short-term memory, co-ordination, motivation, organisational skills and language. Physical effects may include visual problems, or early puberty in children.

Many of these effects can be reduced through teaching strategies or with treatment where relevant. The effects of hydrocephalus can vary greatly from one individual to another and some people will have very few, if any, problems.

What causes hydrocephalus?

Hydrocephalus is caused by an inability of CSF to drain away into the bloodstream.

There are many reasons why this can happen, from differences in the way the brain develops, to failure of fluid absorption in an otherwise typical brain, or damage to brain tissue through head injury, haemorrhage or infection.

CSF and hydrocephalus

The excessive accumulation of CSF results in an abnormal widening of spaces in the brain called ventricles. This widening creates potentially harmful pressure on the tissues of the brain.

Find out more about CSF

Treatment options

Hydrocephalus is usually treated by diverting the cerebro spinal fluid (CSF) to a place in the body where it can be absorbed.

 Learn about treatments available

Types of hydrocephalus

 Hydrocephalus can be congenital (you are born with it) or acquired (occurring at any point in your lifetime). 

Learn more about the condition

 
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