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What to Know About Hydrocephalus?

Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju
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Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

The human is a very complex organism, the correct functioning of which depends on many factors. And even a small failure in our body can lead to catastrophic consequences. So, one of the serious failures of our bodies is hydrocephalus.

It is a condition in which cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) accumulates abnormally in the brain. The excess fluid can put pressure on the brain, leading to several possible symptoms. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with it, it’s essential to understand what you can do to manage the condition. 

This article will outline some of the basics of this disease, including causes, signs, and treatment options. Stay with us for future articles that will go into more detail about specific aspects of conditions.


What Are the Hydrocephalus Types?

What are the hydrocephalus types

It can be divided into the following types:

  • Communicating.
  • Non-communicating.


Both can be subdivided into:

  • Congenital.
  • Acquired.

They differ only in that the first type is obtained at birth, while the second type of disease can be obtained throughout life.


Communicating hydrocephalus can also be subdivided into:

  • Normal pressure (NPH). 
  • Ex vacuo. 


Each type of disease has its characteristics, symptoms, signs, and causes, and it may also differ in treatment approaches. Not to be mistaken about what kind of disease you have, you definitely need to see a doctor for the correct diagnosis.


What Is Non-Communicating Hydrocephalus? 

This type of disease is characterized by the fact that the fluid is blocked in one of the passages between the ventricles, which blocks the movement of fluid at all. This disease is very serious and can lead to death if left untreated. In this case, surgical intervention is used.

The symptoms are as follows:

  • Young children may develop a soft spot on their head. Developmental delays or excessive sleepiness and nausea may also occur.
  • Older children often develop nausea, constant desire to sleep, poor eyesight, balance problems, and personality changes.


Signs include:

  • Head circumference expansion.
  • Increased intracranial pressure (ICP).
  • Optic disc edema (a condition that causes swelling of the optic nerve, which can lead to vision problems).


What Is Communicating Hydrocephalus? 

In this type of disease, fluid can still move between the ventricles because it is blocked after exiting the ventricles. Symptoms may include:

  • Headache.
  • Nausea.
  • Bad appetite.
  • Anger.
  • Insomnia.
  • Lack of strength.
  • Poor eyesight.


In addition, there are also other signs by which the disease can be determined:

  • Wrong head shape.
  • Balance problems.
  • Incorrect movement of the eyeballs.
  • Problems with urination.


Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus

Like other types, this one affects the human brain. Under normal conditions, cerebrospinal fluid moves through the ventricles and enters the bloodstream. But during the disease, the fluid does not move but accumulates in the ventricles. As a consequence, this leads to excessive pressure and problems with the brain. Symptoms include:

  • Balance problems.
  • Incontinence.
  • Dementia.
  • Problems with cognitive abilities.


The cause of this type of disease is difficult to detect, but the problem often occurs in older people. But the problem appears due to changes in the structure of the brain, pressure of the cerebrospinal fluid, or a combination of both. Sometimes, it can be caused by a head injury or another type of injury.


Hydrocephalus Ex-Vacuo

We can say that this condition is more like hydrocephalus, but it is not exactly as it occurs as a result of a head injury. The most common symptom of this type of disease is dementia. Other symptoms may include: 


  • Difficulty walking.
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control.
  • Personality changes.
  • Depression.
  • Double vision. 
  • Headaches.
  • Difficulty speaking. 


Ex vacuo hydrocephalus is often caused by another underlying condition, such as Alzheimer’s disease or a stroke. When these conditions cause damage to the brain tissue, it can lead to a decrease in CSF production. In addition, in this condition, the patient has a problem with ventricular enlargement, not with fluid outflow.


Acquired Hydrocephalus

This is much less common than birth type, occurring in only about 1% of all cases. It occurs when there is an obstruction in the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that leads to a build-up in the ventricles. 

Signs may include: 

  • Headaches.
  • Vomiting.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Problems with balance and coordination.
  • Dementia.

Acquired hydrocephalus

There are several possible causes of acquired hydrocephalus, including:

  • Head injury.
  • Infection.
  • Tumors.
  • Inflammatory diseases.
  • Normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH).


Acquired hydrocephalus can also be caused by certain medications or procedures, such as:

  • Ventriculoperitoneal shunt placement.
  • Ventriculoatrial shunt placement.
  • External ventricular drainage.


Congenital Hydrocephalus

This type is considered one of the most stressful and dangerous, as it can occur in infants who, due to their age and development, cannot describe their feelings and will not be able to talk about the problem. That is why the professionalism of doctors is of key importance in this situation.

Congenital hydrocephalus

The most common symptom of congenital hydrocephalus is an unusually large head circumference at birth.  Other may include: 

  • Bulging fontanels, or soft spots, on the head.
  • Vomiting.
  • Irritability.
  • Sleepiness.
  • Poor feeding.
  • Seizures


If left untreated, the disease can lead to intellectual disability, developmental delays, paralysis, and death.

It can be caused by a number of factors, including infection during pregnancy, genetic abnormalities, and problems with brain development in utero. This condition can also be caused by intraventricular haemorrhage, or bleeding in the brain in newborns. 


How Is Hydrocephalus Diagnosed?

It is usually diagnosed based on symptoms, medical history, and imaging studies. A physical exam may reveal an increase in head circumference, abnormal eye movements (called “sunsetting”), or abnormal reflexes. Neuroimaging studies such as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be used to confirm the diagnosis of it.



Although this disease cannot be completely prevented, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of getting this disease in the future:

  • Ensure your regular and mandatory vaccinations are up to date. Also, conduct proper treatment and prevention of infections that are susceptible.
  • Take care that your head can’t get injured. Wear a helmet while cycling, riding a motorcycle, or doing other activities when your head may get hurt. Also, do not forget about the seat belt in the car, and get a child seat if you have a child.
  • Consult a neurologist regarding meningitis vaccinations.


How Is Hydrocephalus Treated?

Therapy will depend on the cause of the disease.

  • With the help of surgery, communicating hydrocephalus can be treated. During the procedure, the surgeon will remove blockages and ensure a normalized outflow of cerebrospinal fluid.
  • Non-communicating hydrocephalus is treated with a shunt. Thus, with this method, the fluid that remains in the ventricles will be diverted to another area of the human body where it can be absorbed.

You can also contact our clinic for assistance in receiving high-quality, timely, and effective treatment and therapy. Fill out the form on our website, call us, or use the contact button. After contacting the clinic, our manager will contact you and provide you with all the information you need to improve your condition.


Bottom Line 

As you can see, this disease has many varieties and can greatly harm the human body. That is why it is so important to study such diseases and pay attention to the slightest changes in your body.



  • What happens after the shunt surgery?

The actual surgery to implant a shunt usually takes an hour in the operating room. Following that, you will be closely monitored for 24 hours. In most cases, you will be in the hospital for two to four days.

  • How do you classify hydrocephalus?

Classification of hydrocephalus:

  1. Communicating hydrocephalus.
  2. Non-communicating hydrocephalus.
  3. Congenital hydrocephalus.
  4. Acquired hydrocephalus.
  5. Normal-pressure hydrocephalus.
  6. Hydrocephalus ex vacuo.
  • What are the complications of hydrocephalus?

They are:

  • Tenderness and redness along the shunt line.
  • A hot temperature.
  • Headache/vomiting.
  • Stiffness in the neck.
  • If the shunt drains into your stomach, you may experience stomach pain.
  • Baby irritability or sleepiness.


  • How long is recovery from hydrocephalus?

Returning to work or school within a week is not uncommon, but this depends on whether your job is passive or active. Heavy lifting, strenuous exercise, and contact sports should be avoided for 4-6 weeks after hydrocephalus surgery.

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
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Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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