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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Medical Symptoms > Hydrocephalus in Children
      Category : Health Centers > Brain and Nervous System

Hydrocephalus in Children

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Hydrocephalus is a condition involving the abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in and around the brain.

What is going on in the body?

The brain and spinal cord are collectively known as the central nervous system (CNS). A fluid called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) surrounds the CNS. The CSF protects and nourishes the brain. The ventricles are a series of chambers inside the brain that contain and help circulate CSF. Normally, the CSF flows through the ventricles in the brain. It is then reabsorbed into the bloodstream through the membranes that line the skull and spinal canal.

Hydrocephalus may be classified as obstructive or nonobstructive. Obstructive hydrocephalus occurs when the circulation of CSF in the brain is blocked. Nonobstructive hydrocephalus occurs when something interferes with the reabsorption of CSF into the bloodstream. As the CSF accumulates, the ventricles enlarge. They press on the soft tissue of the brain and cause the symptoms of hydrocephalus.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Obstructive hydrocephalus can be caused by:

  • bleeding inside the brain
  • cysts, which are fluid-filled masses
  • an inherited abnormality of the brain present at birth
  • meningitis, an infection of the membranes surrounding the brain
  • meningomyelocele, a severe form of spina bifida in which the spinal cord protrudes outside the body
  • tumors that block the flow of CSF within the brain
  • viral infections in the brain of a fetus, which may be caused by a TORCH infection in the mother
  • Nonobstructive hydrocephalus can be caused by:

  • bleeding over the surface of the brain, which can clog the membranes that reabsorb CSF
  • leukemia, a type of blood cancer
  • meningitis
  • Premature infants are at increased risk for developing this condition. This is because premature babies are more likely to develop bleeding inside or around the brain. The blood can block the membranes that reabsorb CSF, causing hydrocephalus. This risk rises with the degree of prematurity.


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    Hydrocephalus in Children: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: John Wegmann, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 07/31/01

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