Hydrocephalus (pronounced “hi-droh-SEF-eh-less”) is a condition that makes extra spinal fluid build up in the hollow areas around the brain, causing pressure and swelling in the head. Often called “water on the brain,” hydrocephalus can be congenital (present at birth) or acquired (occur over time). It can happen to a child at any age, even a fetus growing in the womb. Although the cause isn’t always known, it usually happens due to a medical problem so it’s important to diagnose it as soon as possible. At Nemours, our goal is to treat the urgent symptoms, and find the reason for the hydrocephalus. Then we work together to make a plan for your child’s long-term health and development.
Advanced Surgery and Care for Pediatric Hydrocephalus
Conditions We Treat That May Cause Hydrocephalus
- aqueductal stenosis (when the spinal fluid flow between the ventricles is blocked)
- Chiari malformation
- complications from prematurity (being born early)
- infections in the brain (like meningitis)
- spina bifida
- traumatic injuries (to the brain or spinal cord)
- tumors or cysts in the brain (cancer or benign)
Services We Offer for Hydrocephalus
Our pediatric neurosurgeons, neurologists and neuroradiologists (doctors who specialize in imaging of the brain) are experts at recognizing the signs and symptoms of pediatric hydrocephalus in children of all ages — even those still in the womb. We offer a range of diagnostic and treatment options for kids with hydrocephalus, which may vary depending on the location you visit and the doctor your child sees:
- fetal diagnostic testing in our perinatology and fetal medicine centers to help us diagnose hydrocephalus and make a treatment plan for when your baby’s born
- medical imaging (radiology) tests like a CT scan, MRI or X-ray
- medications if your child’s hydrocephalus is caused by an infection
- occupational therapy to help kids improve their cognitive, physical, sensory and motor skills
- oncology if your child’s hydrocephalus is the result of a brain tumor
- ophthalmology (eye) exam to evaluate potential problems in and around the eyes
- pain management to manage headaches and post-surgical pain
- surgery by our board-certified pediatric neurosurgeons to create a path for the extra spinal fluid to go so your child’s body can absorb it
Why Choose Us for Hydrocephalus
Hydrocephalus is probably the most common reason for neurosurgery in children. At Nemours, our highly skilled neurosurgeons are experienced in performing endoscopic (minimally invasive) surgery for smaller incisions and faster healing. For the longer term, whether your child needs more operations or has other developmental needs as they grow, our experts use proven treatments to address your child’s immediate needs, and then develop a plan for further care.
We also offer:
- world-class facilities featuring the most advanced diagnostic techniques and equipment
- customized treatment plans based on research and commonly accepted best care practices
- fully equipped neurosurgery operating rooms
- innovative surgical techniques that minimize surgery risks, recovery time and pain
Regional Hydrocephalus Highlights
Services, programs, facilities and care teams for hidrocephalus differ at each location. Call for details.
We offer complete pediatric hydrocephalus care at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children (Wilmington, Del.), named one of the best children’s hospitals in the country for neurology and neurosurgery by U.S. News & World Report .
Our Nemours Partners for Perinatal Management can help parents-to-be plan ahead, prepare and determine next steps for their baby’s possible fetal diagnosis, including hydrocephalus.
We offer complete pediatric hydrocephalus care at Nemours Children’s Hospital (Orlando) and select Nemours Children’s Specialty Care satellite locations.
Our Nemours Center for Fetal Care is available at multiple locations throughout Central Florida to coordinate fetal tests, imaging and consults to help expecting mothers make the best decisions on many different health conditions, including hydrocephalus.