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Hydrocephalus

Hydrocephalus means "water on the brain."

What causes it?

A buildup of cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the brain and the spinal cord causes hydrocephalus. It happens when something — often bleeding from an intraventricular hemorrhage (see below) or an abnormality of the brain or skull — blocks the flow of the fluid. The buildup can create pressure that can damage the brain.

How is it diagnosed?

Doctors suspect hydrocephalus if a baby has a particularly large head or if head size increases rapidly. A head ultrasound, CT scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test can confirm this.

How is it treated?

Less serious cases are usually simply monitored, but more severe ones require a surgeon to place a tube in the brain (called a shunt) that drains the fluid from the brain. Sometimes the fluid is drained to the scalp and sometimes into the abdomen.

How long will my baby be in the NICU?

This depends on the severity of the case. A serious condition may require a stay of several weeks or months, with continued monitoring to watch for potential long-term side effects like developmental delay and seizures.

We're here to help.

If you would like to schedule an appointment for a NICU tour, refer a patient or speak to our staff, please call our offices at 855-687-6428.