Hydrocephalus is the buildup of fluid in the cavities (ventricles) deep within the brain, which increases the size of the ventricles and puts pressure on the brain that can damage brain tissues and impair brain function.

About one in every 500 children has hydrocephalus, and the condition is more common among older adults. It can be inherited or associated with developmental disorders, including spina bifida (congenital defect of the spine) and encephalocele (hernia of the brain). Other causes include bleeding within the brain, brain tumors, head injuries, complications of premature birth such as hemorrhage, or diseases and infections such as meningitis.

Symptoms vary, but may include abnormal enlargement of the head, headache, nausea, loss of balance or coordination, and memory loss. Surgical treatment for hydrocephalus can restore and maintain normal cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF, levels in the brain to relieve symptoms.

When Surgery Is Necessary

The skilled neurosurgeons of North Texas Neurosurgical & Spine Center perform a variety of surgical treatments for hydrocephalus:

  • Removal of the cause of CSF obstruction, such as a brain tumor.
  • Implantation of a permanent shunt to divert fluid away from the brain, typically to the peritoneal cavity (the area surrounding the abdominal organs).
  • Two separate procedures to divert the CSF and, later, remove the cause of the obstruction.
  • Endoscopic third ventriculostomy, which uses a tiny camera to look inside the ventricles and create a new pathway through which CSF can flow.

Hydrocephalus is a lifelong condition. In coordination with your primary physician, we manage care on an ongoing basis, monitoring as needed with diagnostic tests such as CT scans, MRIs and X-rays.