Hydrocephalus (Water on the Brain)

Last Modified: September 18, 2013

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Can you explain hydrocephalus? Why does it happen and how do you treat it?

Connie Didomenico, CRNP, Nurse Practitioner in Neuro-Oncology at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, responds:


Hydrocephalus is an accumulation of fluid in the brain that causes displacement of the brain and structures in the brain. There are many causes for hydrocephalus, including a tumor or poor compliance of brain tissue. If hydrocephalus is caused by a tumor, removal of the tumor can often correct this, though if the tumor cannot be removed entirely, the hydrocephalus may continue, requiring a shunt. Placement of a shunt diverts the flow of fluid to avoid accumulation in the brain. It typically drains into another part of the body, such as the abdomen, where the body can reabsorb the fluid.

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