Pediatric hydrocephalus is a condition caused by an excessive buildup of cerebral spinal fluid (or brain water ) in the brain. This fluid is a clear fluid that surrounds and cushions the brain and spinal cord, protecting them from injury. When the fluid builds up in the brain, it can cause increased pressure within the head. Hydrocephalus can occur for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it is caused by an overproduction of CSF and other times, it may be due to the body’s inability to drain or reabsorb the fluid. It can be present at birth (congenital) or occur after birth (acquired). Pediatric hydrocephalus can be damaging if left untreated, but with early diagnosis and treatment, children with hydrocephalus can often lead normal, healthy lives. Hydrocephalus may be congenital (born with it) or acquired (developed). When hydrocephalus is congenital, it may be the result of a condition like spina bifida, where the baby’s spine does not form normally, or aqueductal stenosis, a narrowing of the passage between the third and fourth ventricles in the brain. Hydrocephalus may also be caused by a genetic disorder.
Acquired hydrocephalus occurs any time after birth. It may occur due to bleeding in the brain, sometimes seen in premature babies or in individuals who have experienced traumatic brain injuries. It may occur if there is a growing mass causing obstruction to the flow of CSF. Sometimes it may be idiopathic, which means that it develops without a known cause.
Signs or symptoms of hydrocephalus in infancy may include:
– Bulging fontanelles (soft spots between the bones)
– A large head circumference or a rapid increase in head growth
– Swollen veins on the scalp
– Difficulty looking upward during eye movements
– Repetitive vomiting
– Excessive irritability, possibly due to head pain
– Very sleepy and difficult to awaken
Treatment for hydrocephalus varies based on the age of the child and the cause of the hydrocephalus. The most common treatment options are placement of a shunt or performing a third ventriculostomy.
We had large VP shunt series but now, We meet fewer hydrocephalus children.