Hydrocephalus Calf

Definition of Hydrocephalus

Hydrocephalus, commonly referred to as ‘water on the brain’, is a medical condition that is characterized by an excessive amount of fluid accumulating in the brain, resulting in pressure on the brain tissue and enlargement of the skull. This increased pressure can cause brain damage and impair the development of the brain. It is a serious condition that requires medical attention and is most commonly seen in infants and young children. Treatment can vary from a simple procedure to control the build-up of cerebrospinal fluid to a complex surgery to relieve pressure on the brain.

The health definition of hydrocephalus can be broken down into three parts:

  1. Cerebrospinal fluid build-up resulting in increased pressure on the brain: Cerebrospinal fluid is essential for normal brain functioning, but when it accumulates in the brain, it can cause a buildup of pressure that can lead to damage.
  2. Damage to the brain: Without medical attention, hydrocephalus can cause brain damage, impairing normal functioning.
  3. Treatment: Depending on the extent of the hydrocephalus, treatment can range from a simple procedure to one that is more complex. In more severe cases, surgery may be required.

If you are concerned that you or your child may have hydrocephalus, it is important to consult with your doctor to discuss the correct course of action.

Causes of Hydrocephalus

Hydrocephalus, also known as “water on the brain,” is a condition in which an excessive amount of cerebrospinal fluid accumulates in the brain, causing the skull to expand and putting increased pressure on the brain. Causes of hydrocephalus in calves can range from genetic predisposition to bacterial or viral infections, complications at birth, or head trauma. Other possible causes include:

  1. Abnormal formation of the brain during development
  2. Abnormalities of the ventricular system
  3. Brain hemorrhage
  4. Brain tumors
  5. Cysts
  6. Infection
  7. Inflammation
  8. Meningitis
  9. Neurological disorders
  10. Spinal cord malformations

Hydrocephalus can be an inherited condition, or can be caused by prenatal infections, trauma, or the presence of a tumor or cyst. In the majority of cases, however, the cause is unknown. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are essential in order to prevent lasting neurological damage.

Signs and Symptoms

Hydrocephalus Calf, also known as Water on the brain, is a condition where there is an excessive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the ventricles of the brain. This can cause intracranial pressure, leading to a range of health complications. The signs and symptoms of Hydrocephalus Calf are varied and can affect an individual differently.

  1. Mental and physical developmental delays, or decreased development
  2. Headache
  3. Vomiting
  4. Dizziness
  5. Fatigue
  6. Seizures
  7. Irritability or difficulty concentrating
  8. Vision changes or loss
  9. Behavioural changes
  10. Hearing loss
  11. Decreased appetite or weight loss

If any of these signs and symptoms are present, it is important to seek medical attention right away. Prompt treatment can help minimize further complications and help manage the condition.


Hydrocephalus calf is a medical condition where the calf’s skull is filled with an excessive amount of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). It is a rare disorder and is usually diagnosed at birth or soon after. Diagnosis of hydrocephalus calf requires physical examination, imaging studies and laboratory tests.

  1. Physical examination: The doctor may look for signs such as a distended head, bulging fontanel, head tilt, and decreased muscle tone.
  2. Imaging studies: Ultrasound, Computed Tomography (CT) scan and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) can be used to confirm the diagnosis.
  3. Laboratory tests: Tests include analysis of CSF to check its composition and pressure.

A hydrocephalus calf is usually treated with a procedure called a ventriculoperitoneal shunt. This shunt is surgically placed in the brain and helps to drain the excess CSF. In some cases, medications may also be prescribed to help reduce the swelling in the brain.


Hydrocephalus in calves can require treatment in order to reduce the risk of further complications, improve quality of life and decrease distress. Treatment typically begins with the veterinarian draining the excess fluid from the calf’s brains with a special needle inserted into the skull. This temporary solution is often followed by a surgery known as a ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt placement, where a tube is surgically placed to divert the fluid buildup from the brain to the abdomen, where it can be absorbed. The tube typically includes a small valve that can be adjusted to allow for proper drainage of the fluid. Other treatments for hydrocephalus in calves may include medications to reduce inflammation and swelling, as well as physical and occupational therapy to help strengthen muscles and improve motor skills. It is important to understand that hydrocephalus is a lifelong condition and will most likely require regular monitoring and follow-up treatment by the veterinarian.

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