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Hydrocephalus

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Hydrocephalus is a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain. The excess fluid increases the size of fluid-filled spaces in the brain, called ventricles, which puts extra pressure on the brain. Excess cerebrospinal fluid can be caused by a blockage in the normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid, poor absorption of this fluid by the blood vessels, or an overproduction of the fluid. 

Certain conditions can increase the risk of hydrocephalus, including:

  • Abnormal development of the central nervous system
  • Bleeding in the ventricles (occurs with premature births)
  • Infection in the uterus during pregnancy, such as rubella (German measles) or syphilis

The most noticeable signs of hydrocephalus in infants is a rapid increase in head circumference or a larger-than-normal head. Other symptoms may include:

  • Eyes fixed downward (sun-setting)
  • Irritability
  • Poor feeding and growth
  • Seizures
  • Sleepiness
  • Vomiting

University of Miami Health System experts have advanced experience diagnosing and treating newborns with hydrocephalus. We use the latest approaches and make sure your child receives comprehensive care.

Why Choose UHealth?

History of excellence in critical care for babies. Our neonatologists see patients at Holtz Children’s Hospital, which has one of the largest, longest established Level III neonatal intensive care units in the United States. Our neonatal program has been ranked among the best NICUs in the United States by U.S. News & World Report for the past several years. When you trust us to care for your baby, you can be confident that you are putting your child’s care in highly qualified, compassionate hands. 

Recognized by our peers and patients for our excellence. Many of our pediatric doctors are recognized as America’s Top Doctors® by Castle Connolly — doctors who are nominated by their peers as being the very best in their communities. We have more Top Doctors than any other health system in South Florida. We’re affiliated with Holtz Children’s Hospital, one of the largest children’s hospitals in the southeastern United States. The hospital is ranked among the nation’s Best Hospitals by U.S. News & World Report in diabetes and endocrinology, gastroenterology and GI surgery, and nephrology.

Top-ranked neurosurgery team. Our neurosurgery program is nationally ranked among the best by U.S. News & World Report. We are the leaders in the treatment and diagnosis of neurological conditions. Our knowledge, expertise and commitment to patient care have earned us our reputation as a world-class research and medical center. That means we provide state-of-the-art treatment as well as superior follow-up care.

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Treatments

  • Shunt Insertion

    In this surgical procedure, your child’s surgeon places a drainage system (shunt) to drain the extra fluid from the brain, relieving pressure. The drainage system’s tubing allows the fluid to flow to another part of the body where it can drain safely and be reabsorbed. 

  • Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy

    This surgical procedure creates a small hole in the ventricle to allow the cerebrospinal fluid to flow around a blocked area and be reabsorbed. Your child's surgeon uses a neuroendoscope — a tiny video camera — to see the ventricle and perform the procedure.


Tests

  • Physical Exam

    Your child’s doctor conducts a thorough physical exam of your baby to check for signs of hydrocephalus.

  • Brain Imaging Tests

    Noninvasive imaging tests such as an ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or computerized tomography (CT) check for enlarged areas and fluid retention in the brain.