Hydrocephalus is the buildup of fluid in the cavities (ventricles) deep within the brain. The excess fluid increases the size of the ventricles and puts pressure on the brain.

Cerebrospinal fluid normally flows through the ventricles and bathes the brain and spinal column. But the pressure of too much cerebrospinal fluid associated with hydrocephalus can damage brain tissues and cause a large spectrum of impairments in brain function.

Although hydrocephalus can occur at any age, it's more common among infants and older adults.

Surgical treatment for hydrocephalus can restore and maintain normal cerebrospinal fluid levels in the brain. A variety of interventions are often required to manage symptoms or functional impairments resulting from hydrocephalus.


The signs and symptoms of hydrocephalus vary generally by age of onset.


Common signs and symptoms of hydrocephalus in infants include:

Changes in the headAn unusually large headA rapid increase in the size of the headA bulging or tense soft spot (fontanel) on the top of the head

Physical symptoms




Poor feeding


Eyes fixed downward (sunsetting of the eyes)

Deficits in muscle tone and strength, responsiveness to touch, and expected growth

Toddlers and older children

Among toddlers and older children, signs and symptoms may include:

Physical symptoms

HeadacheBlurred or double vision

Physical signs

Abnormal enlargement of a toddler's head

SleepinessDifficulty remaining awake or waking up

Nausea or vomiting

Unstable balancePoor coordination

Poor appetiteSeizures

Behavioral and cognitive changes


Change in personality

Problems with attention

Decline in school performance

Delays or problems with previously acquired skills, such as walking or talking

Young and middle-aged adults

Common signs and symptoms in this age group include:


eDifficulty in remaining awake or waking up

Loss of coordination or balance

Loss of bladder control or a frequent urge to urinate

Impaired visionDecline in memory, concentration and other thinking skills that may affect job performance

Older adults

Among adults 60 years of age and older, the more common signs and symptoms of hydrocephalus are:

Loss of bladder control or a frequent urge to urinate

Memory lossProgressive loss of other thinking or reasoning skills

Difficulty walking, often described as a shuffling gait or the feeling of the feet being stuck

Poor coordination or balanceSlower than normal movements in general

When to see a doctor

Seek emergency medical care for infants and toddlers experiencing these signs and symptoms:

A high-pitched cry

Problems with sucking or feedingUnexplained, recurrent vomiting

An unwillingness to bend or move the neck or head

Breathing difficulties



A ventriculoperitoneal shunt is the treatment of choice for a case of Hydrocephalus. in some cases Endodcopic ventriculostomy is done.

A Ventriculoperitoneal shunt
How shunt is placed in body