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What Causes Hydrocephalus & Treatments

Written by
Dr. Ignacio Antanio Magana
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Published on Oct 25, 2014 and last reviewed on Mar 15, 2022   -  3 min read


Abnormal buildup of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain, which can result in brain damage or death, is called hydrocephalus. Read the article to know more.

What Causes Hydrocephalus & Treatments

The brain has two circulations.

Functions of CSF

However if CSF collects in excess and is not reabsorbed, then pressure inside the skull can increase to damage brain cells or even kill them by depriving them of oxygen and glucose.

Causes of Hydrocephalus

Two Main Forms of Hydrocephalus

After the age of 2 years, the skull bone plates join together so that the head can no longer enlarge in response to CSF accumulation. Subsequently, the pressure inside the skull, called intracranial pressure (ICP), increases and thus reduces the blood flow to the brain as well as causing physical changes to the brain. Deformity of the nerves from increased pressure causes loss of vision, difficulty in thinking, difficulty with coordination and loss of memory. If unchecked it can lead to shifts of brain structures, called herniations, which can result in permanent coma or death.

If the pressure remains above that which allows blood flow into the brain for even a few minutes, then a condition where the brain essentially dies, called brain death, will occur.

Treatment for Hydrocephalus

There are thousands of people around the world living independent and useful lives following successful surgery for hydrocephalus.

Consult a neuro surgeon online for queries regarding hyrocephalus -->


Frequently Asked Questions


What Are the Possible Causes of Hydrocephalus?

The possible causes of hydrocephalus are:
- A blood clot in the brain.
- Infection in the brain and the spinal cord.
- Internal bleeding.
- Genetics.


It Is Possible to Cure Hydrocephalus?

Hydrocephalus is a condition that occurs in a chronic manner. It is possible only to control the symptoms of hydrocephalus. Individuals who were affected by hydrocephalus can lead a normal life, but they have few restrictions. The permanent damage caused in the brain can lead to some fatal symptoms.


What Are the Symptoms of Hydrocephalus?

The various symptoms of hydrocephalus are:
- Sleepiness.
- Vomiting.
- Poor feeding.
- Irritability.
- Eyes fixed downward.
- Seizures.
- Poor responsiveness to touch.
- Urinary incontinence.
- Deficits in muscle tone and strength.
- Poor growth.
- Blurred or double vision.
- Headache.


What Are the Disabilities Caused by Hydrocephalus?

Babies who are affected by hydrocephalus are known to suffer permanent damage in the brain. They are also affected by speech problems and difficulty in learning. They also suffer poor growth, poor feeding, and seizures. The size of the head will become abnormally large.


Can a Child Grow With Hydrocephalus?

Medical reports are not sufficient to explain the exact outcome of hydrocephalus patients. However, there are babies who grow to the adult stage along with hydrocephalus when they are diagnosed at the earlier stage. More evidence is required to understand the growth of hydrocephalus patients.


Can Hydrocephalus Be Inherited From Parents?

Yes, hydrocephalus can be inherited from parents. Hydrocephalus can be inherited from one or both parents. The genetic causes of hydrocephalus might lead to developmental problems like spina bifida. It can also lead to bleeding and infections in the brain.


How Does a Baby With Hydrocephalus Appear?

A baby affected by hydrocephalus will have soft skull bones. They would be incomplete in development, and it is possible to see the large veins in the scalp. In addition to this, the head size of the skull keeps increasing. You should consult a doctor for appropriate treatments.


Can a Hydrocephalus Baby Live a Normal Life?

In most cases, babies can lead a normal life, but treatment is mandatory. Since there are severe complications in the brain and short-term life expectancy, the routine life of hydrocephalus patients gets affected.


What Makes a Baby to Be Born With Hydrocephalus?

According to recent medical reports, 1 out of 500 babies are known to be born with hydrocephalus. This happens due to the presence of infection in the mother during the time of pregnancy. The infections might include mumps and rubella. In addition to this, any blockage in the flow of cerebrospinal fluid can also cause hydrocephalus.


At What Age Is Hydrocephalus Diagnosed?

Diagnosis for hydrocephalus can be made at any age. The increased occurrence of hydrocephalus is noted in babies and older people who are more than 50 years of age. You should discuss with your doctor about the various diagnostic procedures.


Is It Possible for Hydrocephalus Babies to Walk Normally?

Babies with hydrocephalus conditions have difficulty learning. This makes it difficult for them to learn normal walking patterns. They might lose coordination while walking. A very few patients have normal physical development. Some parents identify the walking disability in their children only when they start going to school.


What Is the Most Common Cause for the Occurrence of Hydrocephalus in Infants?

Bacterial meningitis is the most common cause of the occurrence of hydrocephalus in infants. The other common cause of hydrocephalus is bleeding in the brain. The least common cause is genetic issues.


What Will Happen if Hydrocephalus Is Not Treated?

Hydrocephalus has to be treated as soon as possible. The untreated cases of hydrocephalus can result in reduced consciousness in patients. They also experience visual disturbances and mental functioning that might get severe. You can get help from


What Is the Rate of Progression for Hydrocephalus?

Medical reports suggest that nearly 50-80 percent of the affected patients show relief from their symptoms during the first three years of birth. Patients who are having poor health conditions have a faster progression of the condition.


Is Memory Affected by Hydrocephalus?

Loss of memory is noticed in patients who are more than 60 years. There is a progressive loss in thinking ability and reasoning skills. They also suffer an increased urge to urinate.


What Is the Life Expectancy of Hydrocephalus Patients?

If the condition is diagnosed at an earlier stage, then the children who are affected by hydrocephalus will be able to enjoy a normal lifespan. Surgical options can also help in increasing the lifespan of young patients. In general, 50 percent of the patients who are affected by hydrocephalus die before they reach the age of three.


How Is the Prognosis for Hydrocephalus?

The prognosis for hydrocephalus is very poor. Some patients die before three years of age, while others die before entering adulthood. The non-tumor cases might show a good prognosis rate with proper treatment options.


Can Hydrocephalus Be Cured Without Surgery?

Hydrocephalus cannot be treated without surgery. Most of the patients with hydrocephalus need surgical treatment to reduce the increased intracranial pressure. A silicone tube and valve system are required for surgical management.


What Are the Complications of Hydrocephalus?

The complications associated with hydrocephalus are:
- Death.
- Loss of intellectual development.
- Poor physical activity.
- Severe developmental anomalies.

Last reviewed at:
15 Mar 2022  -  3 min read




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