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Hydrocephalus is sometimes known as “water on the brain,” but is more accurately described as a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that can cause pressure inside the head to increase. CSF normally flows through fluid-filled ventricles by way of openings that connect one ventricle to another. Eventually, the CSF reaches the surface of the brain and spinal cord, where it is absorbed into the bloodstream. To maintain normal pressure, the production, flow, and absorption of CSF must be kept in balance. Therefore, hydrocephalus may occur when there is:
Hydrocephalus is a relatively common condition that occurs in about one out of 500 births. At the Brain Care Institute of UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, our neurosurgeons have developed expertise in treating this condition by shunt insertion and, when appropriate, using minimally invasive endoscopic procedures.
Hydrocephalus can be present at birth (congenital), or it can be acquired later in a child's life.
Causes of acquired hydrocephalus in children may include:
The symptoms of hydrocephalus in children may resemble other conditions or medical problems, so patients and their families should always consult a physician for a diagnosis. Each child may experience symptoms differently, but the most common symptoms of hydrocephalus in infants include:
In older children, headaches and visual changes may be seen.
As a nationally recognized research center, UPMC Children’s Hospital’s Brain Care Institute participates in the latest clinical studies, which involve human volunteers and are intended to add to our medical understanding.
Children's Hospital's main campus is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our main hospital address is:
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
One Children’s Hospital Way
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
In addition to the main hospital, Children's has many convenient locations in other neighborhoods throughout the greater Pittsburgh region.
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Interested in giving to Children's Hospital? Support the hospital by making a donation online, joining our Heroes in Healing monthly donor program, or visiting our site to learn about the other ways you can give back.