Mayo Clinic: Hydrocephalus


Hydrocephalus is a serious health condition that needs to be diagnosed accurately and promptly. The Mayo Clinic recommends the following steps to diagnose hydrocephalus:

  1. A physical exam and a detailed patient history
  2. Testing of vision, coordination, and reflexes
  3. Neuroimaging tests, such as an MRI or CT scan
  4. A lumbar puncture to measure the pressure in the brain
  5. Blood tests

The diagnosis of hydrocephalus may be difficult and made only after the results of all these tests are evaluated and discussed. Once diagnosed, the treatment of hydrocephalus can begin and help reduce the risk of further complications.


Hydrocephalus is a serious neurological disorder with a range of physical and cognitive symptoms. Symptoms may vary depending on the type and severity of the condition. The most common symptoms of hydrocephalus include:

  1. Headaches, often accompanied by vomiting
  2. Blurred or double vision
  3. Balance and coordination issues
  4. Difficulty walking
  5. Difficulty speaking or understanding spoken language
  6. Reduced intellectual capacity
  7. Memory loss
  8. Seizures

In infants, a bulging fontanelle or an abnormally shaped head may be an indication of hydrocephalus. Further medical examination will be necessary to diagnose the condition. Early treatment and intervention are important, as the symptoms of hydrocephalus can become more severe with time.


Hydrocephalus is a neurological condition, which is caused when cerebrospinal fluid accumulates in the brain. It is normally caused by abnormal development or blockage of the flow of cerebrospinal fluid. This can be caused by issues such as brain tumors, head trauma, stroke, genetic anomalies, birth defects, infections such as meningitis, or by a decline in the production of the fluid caused by aging. In a minority of cases the cause is unknown. According to the Mayo Clinic, early diagnosis and treatment of hydrocephalus is important to prevent complications, such as mental disabilities or physical disabilities, from occurring. Treatment can include placement of a shunt to remove the extra fluid and divert it to other parts of the body for absorption.


Hydrocephalus is a serious medical condition that can be effectively treated. At Mayo Clinic, treatment focuses on reducing pressure in the skull by draining cerebrospinal fluid. Treatment may involve surgically placing a shunt, a small device that diverts the flow of cerebrospinal fluid from the brain to another part of the body where the fluid can be safely absorbed. In some cases, doctors may choose to perform an endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV), in which a small hole is created in the floor of the third ventricle to allow free flow of cerebrospinal fluid and reduce pressure on the brain. In cases where hydrocephalus is caused by a tumor, doctors may need to remove the tumor and perform a shunt procedure or ETV. For hydrocephalus caused by a structural abnormality, doctors may need to repair it surgically. After the treatment, patients may need to undergo regular follow-up visits with a doctor to monitor their hydrocephalus.


Hydrocephalus can cause several serious health complications.

  1. The excessive pressure within the skull can cause brain damage, impaired development, and difficulty with communication and physical coordination.
  2. Complications of late diagnosis and treatment can include mental retardation, learning disabilities, visual impairment and epilepsy.
  3. It can also cause chronic headaches, cognitive difficulties and bladder control problems.
  4. In rare cases, hydrocephalus can cause paralysis.

Clearly, diagnosis and proper treatment of hydrocephalus by the specialists of Mayo Clinic can help prevent many of these complications.


Hydrocephalus can affect different parts of the body, depending on its severity and the age of the person. The prognosis for a person with hydrocephalus depends on the cause and the severity of the condition. The most important factors influencing prognosis are:

  1. Age of diagnosis
  2. Underlying cause
  3. Complications that may have developed
  4. Appropriate and timely treatment

In most cases, early diagnosis and appropriate treatment will lead to an improved outcome such as reduced neurological impairment, improved mobility and quality of life. However, it is important to remember that many cases of hydrocephalus may require lifelong management to ensure the best possible outcome.


Hydrocephalus is a serious health condition that can have long-term consequences if left untreated. The best way to prevent hydrocephalus is to take good care of your body, especially during pregnancy. Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, limit alcohol and smoking, and make sure you are up to date on all recommended immunizations. Additionally, if you have any family history of hydrocephalus or if you experience symptoms such as headaches, vomiting, or blurry vision, be sure to consult your doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis is key in managing hydrocephalus and avoiding long-term complications. The Mayo Clinic also recommends monitoring for signs of hydrocephalus in babies, such as an unusually large head or slow mental or physical development. If you have any concerns, it is important to talk to your doctor.

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