What is Hydrocephalus?

Hydrocephalus comes from Greek words: hydro means water, cephalus means head. Hydrocephalus is an abnormal accumulation of fluid—cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF—within cavities called ventricles inside the brain. This condition may occur at any age. CSF is produced in the ventricles, circulates through the ventricular system in the brain and is absorbed into the bloodstream. CSF is in constant circulation and has many functions. It surrounds the brain and spinal cord and acts as a protective cushion against injury. CSF contains nutrients and proteins that are needed for the nourishment and normal function of the brain. It carries waste products away from surrounding tissues. 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.

What causes Hydrocephalus?

Hydrocephalus is a condition that can develop for a variety of reasons, sometimes in conjunction with another disorder. Hydrocephalus that is congenital (present at birth) is thought to be caused by a complex interaction of genetic and environmental factors. Aqueductal stenosis, an obstruction of the cerebral aqueduct, is the most frequent cause of congenital hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus is believed to occur in about 1.5 per 1,000 births. Hydrocephalus that is acquired after birth may result from intraventricular hemorrhage, meningitis, head trauma, tumors or cysts or for no known reason. Hydrocephalus is believed to occur in about 1.5 per 1,000 births. Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH) is a form of hydrocephalus that affects older adults. Sometimes the cause of NPH is known-and can include head trauma or brain tumor—but most often it is idiopathic, which means the cause is not known.

– text taken completely from the Hydrocephalus Association website, image taken from the Cerebral Palsy and Other Disorders website.


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