Hydrocephalus, Pediatric

Jennifer A. Markowitz Reviewed 06/2017



  • Accumulation of CSF in the ventricles and subarachnoid spaces, leading to their enlargement

  • Overall head size may enlarge in response, depending on age and cause.


  • Normal...



Presenting concerns: 
  • Infants: enlarging head, irritability, vomiting, somnolence, poor feeding

  • Older children: headache, vomiting, double vision, somnolence

Physical Exam

  • Vital signs: in...


Surgery/Other Procedures

Acute interventions 
  • Ventricular shunt

    • Indication: progressive or acute symptomatic hydrocephalus

    • Contraindications: active central nervous system infection, active intr...

Ongoing Care

Follow-up Recommendations

  • When the etiology or need for shunt placement is unclear, it is important to follow clinical status, head circumference, and ventricular size (by head ultrasound ...

Additional Reading

  • Air  EL, Yuan  W, Holland  SK, et al. Longitudinal comparison of pre- and postoperative diffusion tensor imaging parameters in young children with hydrocephalus. J Neurosurg Pediatr...



  • 331.4 Obstructive hydrocephalus

  • 331.3 Communicating hydrocephalus

  • 742.3 Congenital hydrocephalus

  • 331.5 Idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus (INPH)


  • G91.9 Hydrocephalus, unspecified

  • G91.0...


  • Q: When does an infant need a head ultrasound?

  • A: Any infant whose head circumference increases by more than a quartile on the growth chart needs a head ultrasound. Preterm infants below a certain ...

Subscribe to Access Full Content

Sign Up for a 10-Day Free Trial

Sign up for a 10-day FREE Trial now and receive full access to all content.