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Hydrocephalus

more about Hydrocephalus


  • This is a condition in which the fluid in the brain (cerebrospinal fluid) increases.
  • It can be classified into an obstructive (noncommunicating) type, in which the circulation or absorption of this fluid is blocked; and a communicating (nonobstructive) type, in which excessive fluid is produced.

  • Symptoms differ depending on the cause of hydrocephalus, and the age of onset.
  • Irritability, lack of energy, poor appetite, vomiting; brief, shrill, high-pitched crying
  • In infant:
    1. Enlargement of the head; broad forehead
    2. The fontanelle (soft spot) is wide open and bulging.
    3. Prominent scalp veins
    4. The eyes may be deviated downward
    5. Brisk tendon reflexes, increased muscle tone, clonus, Babinski's sign
  • In the older children:
    1. More subtle
    2. Progressive decline in mental activity
    3. Increased muscle tone
    4. The involuntary discharge of urine

  • Obstructive (noncommunicating) type:
    1. Aqueductal stenosis, aqueductal gliosis
    2. Arnold-Chiari malformation
    3. Dandy-Walker syndrome
  • Non-obstructive (communicating type)
    1. Intracranial hemorrhage
    2. Meningitis, Encephalitis
    3. Intrauterine infections
    4. Leukemic infiltration

  • History
  • Family history
  • Past history of: Prematurity, intracranial hemorrhage, Meningitis, Encephalitis
  • Inspection, palpation, and auscultation of the skull and spine
  • Shining a light against the skull shows abnormal fluid accumulation in the head
  • A head CAT, skull X-rays
  • Brain scan
  • An arteriography of brain blood vessels
  • An echoencephalogram may show dilation of the ventricles

  • Medical treatment
  • Acetazolamide and furosemide to reduce CSF production
  • Surgical treatment; a shunt to an area outside of the brain or to allow CSF to bypass the obstructed area
  • Ventriculo-atrial shunt
  • Ventriculo-peritoneal shunt

  • Shunt dysfunction
  • Abnormalities in memory function
  • Visual problems
  • Intellectual impairment
  • Neurologic damage
  • Physical disabilities

  • Your child needs emergency medical treatment -- call 911 immediately if your child has difficulties with feeding, high-pitched cry, fever, lethargy, stiff neck, problems with breathing, Seizures, irregular heartbeat, or no heartbeat.




more about Hydrocephalus


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