ABC Medical Center > Hydrocephalus

What is Hydrocephalus?

21:54 - 4 May , 2021


It is a chronic neurological condition caused by an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain ventricles and/or between the layers that cover it, causing excessive pressure in the brain and development problems. It affects children, young people, adults, and seniors. Although it has no cure, it is totally treatable, especially if detected on time, to grant a better quality of life to the patient.

Hydrocephalus, which literally means water in the brain, can occur due to genetic problems or during pregnancy as a result of another hidden disease, the existence of a brain tumor or infection, a head injury, or to the brain’s aging process.

Generally, this disease is usually classified in two groups:

  • Congenital: caused by genetic and environmental factors that appear in the stage of development of the fetus, mainly due to the presence of:
    • Spina bifida.
    • Stenosis of the aqueduct.
    • Brain malformations.
  • Acquired: develops after birth at any stage of life due to:
    • Intraventricular hemorrhage.
    • Meningitis or other brain or spinal cord infections.
    • Head injury.
    • Brain tumors.

Signs and symptoms Hydrocephalus

The symptoms are diverse and depend on the stage in which it occurs:

  • Pregnancy: the fetus has expanded ventricles that may indicate the presence of hydrocephalus.
  • Babies and children: Abnormal head growth accompanied by headaches, lethargy, droopy eyes, loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Young adults and adults: fainting, chronic headaches, coordination and balance problems, visual impairment, dizziness, nausea, and short-term memory problems.
  • Seniors: dementia, incontinence, balance and memory problems.

Hydrocephalus can lead to permanent brain damage and physical and mental problems, even death, if it is not detected and treated early.

Diagnosis and treatment Hydrocephalus

Your doctor, in addition to performing a comprehensive neurological assessment, analyzing your clinical history and symptoms, may request the following tests:

  • Ultrasound.
  • MRI.
  • Computed tomography.

If considered necessary:

  • Lumbar puncture.
  • Continuous lumbar drainage of cerebrospinal fluid and monitoring of intracranial pressure.
  • Isotopic cysternography. 

Before birth, hydrocephalus is detected by prenatal ultrasound.

Hydrocephalus treatment will depend on each specific case and its severity, but in general, brain surgery is required, which may consist of:

  • Intracranial valve: A flexible tube is placed in the ventricular system so that the cerebrospinal fluid is absorbed in other parts of the body, such as the abdominal cavity or the heart.
  • Endoscopic ventriculostomy: An endoscope that pierces the third ventricle membrane is used to open a pathway for cerebrospinal fluid to escape into the ventricular system. It is recommended for patients over two years old, depending on the case.
  • Endoscopic ventriculostomy with choroid plexus cauterization: recommended for patients under two years old, in which the tissue of the choroid plexus is cauterized in order to reduce the amount of fluid that enters the ventricles. 

The purpose of these surgical procedures is to keep the pressure inside the brain at normal levels, avoiding the serious complications of this condition.

At the Neurological Center, a select group of highly professional and certified doctors in the various neurological specialties are ready to assist you with the quality and warmth that characterizes us.

Our mission is to provide you with comprehensive and multidisciplinary care programs for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of nervous system diseases, always focusing our activities on your safety.

Nervous system specialties

  • Neurology
  • Neurosurgery
  • Spine surgery
  • Pediatric neurosurgery
  • Neurophysiology
  • Neuro-rehabilitation
  • Neuro-pathology
  • Interventional neuro-radiology
  • Neuropsychology
  • Neuro-oncology
  • Neuro-otology
  • Epilepsy
  • Neuro-ophthalmology
  • Neuroimaging


  • hydroassoc.org
  • topdoctors.es
  • mayocilinic.org
  • medlineplus.gov
  • msdmanuals.com
  • medigraphic.com
  • Zárate MA, Hernández SM, Valdez OR, et al. Análisis clínico de la derivación ventrículo peritoneal asistida por neuroendoscopia para manejo de hidrocefalia compleja. Arch Neurocien. 2006;11(3):170-176.
  • Montoya AP, Murillo AK. Diagnóstico de la hidrocefalia de presión normal. Revista Médica Sinergia. 2021;6(03):1-11.
  • Hernández SD, Blanco PME, González CK, et al. Factores asociados a hidrocefalia congénita. Rev Méd Electrón. 2020;42(1):.
  • Muñoz-Montoya JE, Vargas-Osorio MP, Conteno-Meléndez D, et al. Hidrocefalia multiloculada. Rev Hosp Jua Mex. 2019;86(4):211-215.

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