Thursday, May 7, 2009

What is Hydrocephalus?

Hydrocephalus is a build-up of fluid in the head.

In Layman's Terms:

Your brain has a series of organs right in the middle called Ventricles. The Ventricles produce Cerebral-Spinal Fluid (CSF). This fluid fills in the space around the brain and protects it. The fluid also drains down your spinal column and protects your spinal cord as well. Your ventricles are constantly producing CSF - there is no off-switch. Excess CSF is simply absorbed into your body.

In cases of Spina Bifida, the brain is often seated farther back in the skull and in effect, blocks the drainage of CSF into the spinal column (like the plug in your bathtub). When the fluid cannot drain, pressure builds up in the skull and can inhibit proper brain development.

Fortunately, infant's heads are very soft and malleable since the bones have not hardened and fused so an infant's head will increase in size to accommodate the additional fluid which protects the development of their brain.

It is important for you to realize that just because your child may have hydro does not mean that they have any mental developmental problems. It just means that they have too much fluid building and will need to have treatment to correct it.

The most common way to correct hydro is the insertion of a shunt within 24-72 hours after birth (subject for another post).

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