Hydrocephalus and Shunt Surgery

Hydrocephalus is a build up of fluid in the brain. The increased pressure from the excess fluid can damage the brain. Babies with hydrocephalus are usually born with the condition. Older children can develop the condition as a complication following a brain tumour, spinal cord or head injury or meningitis.


Babies with hydrocephalus can have an unusually large head. Other symptoms can include severe vomiting, trouble holding their head up, seizures and drowsiness. Older children can experience sever headaches, problems with vision, balance, coordination, bladder control, tiredness and personality changes.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options:

  • An ultrasound can be used to detect hydrocephalus in the foetus.
  • Family’s medical history is taken.
  • Physical and neurological examination is undertaken.
  • Diagnostic tests such as x-rays, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans may be required.
  • Intracranial pressure monitoring may be needed to test for intracranial pressure.
  • A shunt may be required.


Hydrocephalus is an ongoing condition and will need consistent monitoring.

Organisations, such as Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Queensland are a valuable resource for education and support, as hydrocephalus is a life long condition.


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