Translated from Latin, hydrocephalus means “water on the brain.” This condition is an excessive accumulation of fluid in the brain. The “water” is actually cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) – a clear fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. The excessive accumulation of CSF results in an abnormal widening of spaces in the brain called ventricles. This widening creates potentially harmful pressure on the tissues of the brain. Congenital hydrocephalus is present at birth and can be caused by genetic abnormalities or a problem during fetal development. It is one of the most common causes of developmental disabilities.
In some cases, such as hydrancephaly and holoprosencephaly, the ventricles are not only enlarged but can also be deformed due to overlying parenchymal abnormalities. Severe hydrocephalus can be associated with other severe developmental abnormalities and can present a grim outcome.
For more information on hydrocephalus, visit these sites:
- NINDS – Hydrocephalus Fact Sheet National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
- Medilexicon Ltd. Medical News Today – What is Hydrocephalus (Water on the Brain)?
- MedicineNet Inc. – Hydrocephalus
- CHOP – Hydrocephalus The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
- BBC Health – What is Hydrocephalus?