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Hydrocephalus in children: Clinical features and diagnosis

Abilash Haridas, MD
Tadanori Tomita, MD
Section Editor
Marc C Patterson, MD, FRACP
Deputy Editor
Carrie Armsby, MD, MPH


Hydrocephalus is a disorder in which an excessive amount of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) accumulates within the cerebral ventricles and/or subarachnoid spaces, resulting in ventricular dilation and increased intracranial pressure (ICP) [1,2]. Hydrocephalus can be congenital or acquired; both categories include a diverse group of conditions (table 1).

The clinical features and diagnosis of hydrocephalus in children will be reviewed here. The pathophysiology, etiology, management, and prognosis of hydrocephalus are discussed separately. (See "Hydrocephalus in children: Physiology, pathogenesis, and etiology" and "Hydrocephalus in children: Management and prognosis".)

This topic will focus on the clinical features and diagnosis of obstructive and communicating hydrocephalus in childhood, which are almost always associated with increased ICP. Normal pressure hydrocephalus, a condition seen predominantly in adults in which the cerebral ventricles are pathologically enlarged, but the ICP is not elevated, is discussed separately. (See "Normal pressure hydrocephalus".)

The prevention and initial management of hydrocephalus associated with intraventricular hemorrhage in preterm neonates is also discussed in greater detail separately. (See "Management and complications of intraventricular hemorrhage in the newborn".)


The following terms are used this topic:

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Literature review current through: Oct 2017. | This topic last updated: Feb 28, 2017.
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