Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size

Congenital Hydrocephalus - Topic Overview

How is it treated? continued...

In most cases, the doctor places a flexible tube, called a shunt, in the brain to drain the fluid. The shunt carries fluid to another part of the body (usually the belly or the heart), which then absorbs the fluid. The shunt may stay in the brain for life, though it may be have to be fixed or replaced later if it becomes blocked or infected.

A surgery called endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) may be used instead of a shunt in some cases. In ETV, a small hole is made in the deep part of the brain so that the fluid in the brain can flow freely.

Sometimes emergency treatment is needed to reduce the fluid. This may include medicines, a lumbar puncture (sometimes called a spinal tap), or a procedure to drain fluid from the brain until a shunt can be put in.

If your child has any developmental problems or delays caused by damage to the brain, your doctor can help you find the care you need. Treatment will focus on the specific problems your child has. For example, speech therapy can help with speech delays. Physical therapy can help with motor skill problems.

What kind of ongoing care will your child need?

No matter what kind of treatment your child has had, you and your child's doctors will need to watch your child closely to make sure that the fluid in the brain continues to drain properly. Pressure can build up in the brain again. Shunts can become blocked or infected. These problems need to be treated right away to prevent permanent damage.

Symptoms such as irritability, poor appetite, sleeping too much, and vomiting often may be signs that fluid has built up again in your child's brain. After early childhood, there may be other symptoms to watch for, such as headaches, vision problems, confusion, slurred speech, or problems walking. Shunt infections may also cause a fever and redness along the shunt tract or valve.

As your child grows, you'll need to watch for problems with brain development. These could include things like delayed learning, problems with motor skills, and speech problems. Talk to your doctor about any new problems or changes you notice.

It can be hard to wait and see if symptoms will return. And if your child has special needs, it can be a challenge to take care of him or her. Try to take good care of yourself. And ask your doctor about support groups and organizations that can help.

1|2
1|2

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 24, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

child with red rash on cheeks
What’s that rash?
plate of fruit and veggies
How healthy is your child’s diet?
 
smiling baby
Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
Middle school band practice
Understanding your child’s changing body.
 

worried kid
fitArticle
boy on father's shoulder
Article
 
Child with red rash on cheeks
Slideshow
girl thinking
Article
 

babyapp
New
Child with adhd
Slideshow
 
rl with friends
fitSlideshow
Syringes and graph illustration
Tool
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Chill Out and Charge Up Challenge – How to help your tribe de-stress and energize.
Spark Change Challenge - Ready for a healthy change? Get some major motivation.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply