Hydrocephalus is too much cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain. This clear fluid surrounds both the spinal cord and the brain. Too much of this fluid puts pressure on the brain.
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A person can be born with this problem or get it after an injury or illness.
Hydrocephalus can be caused by:
Things that may raise the chance of this problem are:
Symptoms may be mild at first and then get worse as pressure on the brain increases.
Symptoms in adults may be:
Symptoms in infants may be:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
Images of the brain may be taken. This can be done with:
A lumbar puncture may be done in adults to test CSF.
Treatment options are:
There are no current guidelines to prevent hydrocephalus in adults. Getting regular prenatal care may help prevent it in infants.
National Hydrocephalus Foundation
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association of Canada
Hydrocephalus in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hydrocephalus-in-adults . Updated April 28, 2017. Accessed October 16, 2019.
Hydrocephalus in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T474411/Hydrocephalus-in-children . Updated April 28, 2017. Accessed October 2, 2017.
Hydrocephalus fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at:
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Accessed October 2, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 9/30/2014