Information About Hydrocephalus
Hydrocephalus is a condition that was once known as "water on the brain." It occurs when cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) -- a clear fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord -- accumulates in the spaces in the brain, causing them to expand. This expansion causes potentially harmful pressure on the tissues of the brain.
In infants, the most common symptom is a rapid increase in head circumference. In older children and adults, symptoms may include headache followed by:
- Papilledema (swelling of the optic disk, which is part of the optic nerve).
Treatment typically involves surgery. In this procedure, a shunt system is put in place to divert the flow of CSF from a site within the central nervous system to another area of the body, where it can be absorbed as part of the circulatory process. In most cases, hydrocephalus is fatal if left untreated.