Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus
Association of Manitoba

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What is Hydrocephalus?

Hydrocephalus is an increased collection of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain due to a blockage. Approximately 85-90% of individuals with spina bifida have hydrocephalus.

What causes Hydrocephalus?

It is often caused by a blockage in the flow of cerebrospinal fluid. Some people are born with hydrocephalus, while others may develop it after a brain injury, infection or brain tumor.

How is Hydrocephalus treated?

Hydrocephalus is usually corrected by surgical placement of a shunt (tube) to redirect the cerebrospinal fluid into the abdominal cavity (VP shunt), or less commonly into the right atrium of the heart (VA shunt) where the fluid is reabsorbed. The alternative to shunt placement is a surgery called endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV), where a hole is opened inside the brain to re-establish effective flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).

What is a shunt?

A shunt is a long tube that drains the excess CSF from the brain. This reduces pressure on the brain. Shunts usually stay in place throughout life. However, they may need to be revised or replaced at one point or another.