What is Hydrocephalus

AANMeetingHydrocephalus comes from the Greek words hydro meaning water and cephalus meaning head. Hydrocephalus is a chronic condition that occurs when there is an imbalance between cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) production by the choroid plexus and absorption by blood vessels. The choroid plexus is located within the ventricles (hollow cavities deep within the brain). The CSF produced by the choroid plexus circulates through the ventricular system, around the spinal cord and brain, and is absorbed into the bloodstream. This fluid is in constant circulation and has many functions. It acts as a protective cushion for the brain, contains nutrients and proteins necessary for the nourishment and normal function of the brain, and carries waste products away from surrounding tissues. In hydrocephalic patients, CSF builds up causes the ventricles to enlarge and the pressure inside the head to increase.

Who Develops Adult Hydrocephalus?

Hydrocephalus can develop in anyone, but certain populations are more susceptible than others.

    • Adults can develop hydrocephalus after injury or illness that affects the normal function of the brain. These include traumatic brain injuries and illnesses such as meningitis. This is known as Acquired Hydrocephalus.
    • There is a growing population of patients with idiopathic Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (iNPH). The prevalence of iNPH increases dramatically in populations over 801, one of the fastest growing populations in the United States2.
    • Congenital hydrocephalus patients can also go untreated as children but develop symptoms as adults. This is also known as Arrested or Compensated Hydrocephalus.

For more information visit the Hydrocephalus Association’s website:

1. Jaraj D, Rabiei K, Marlow T, Jensen C, Skoog I, Wikkelso C. Prevalence of idiopathic normal-pressure hydrocephalus. Neurology. 2014

2. http://www.institutefortheages.org/facts-on-aging/