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hydrocephalus(hī'drəsĕf`ələs), also known as water on the brain, developmental (congenital) or acquired condition in which there is an abnormal accumulation of body fluids within the skull. The congenital form may be associated with other abnormalities. The acquired form may follow meningitis or another cerebral inflammation or tumor. The accumulation of fluid causes compression of the brain and enlargement of the skull, sometimes with separation of bone structures. Paralysis and death may result or, at the least, mental retardation. Many forms of therapy, including surgery, have been attempted, but usually without much success in extreme cases.
edema of the brain, an excessive increase in the amount of cerebrospinal fluid in the cranial cavity.
The cause of hydrocephalus is either excessive production of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain or obstruction of its efflux from the ventricles of the brain, as a result of inflammatory processes, tumors, or other diseases leading to closing of the apertures through which the fluid escapes from the ventricles. Congenital hydrocephalus is caused by congenital syphilis and toxoplasmosis; acquired hydrocephalus originates (usually in early childhood) after meningitides, menin-goencephalitides, head traumas, intoxications, and other afflictions. The most common symptom of hydrocephalus in children is an enlarged skull. In places where the bones of the skull did not knit normally, rounded, pulsating protrusions may form. Frequently there is strabismus and nystagmus. Sometimes a reduction of vision and hearing, headaches, and nausea are observed. Intelligence is diminished. Treatment of hydrocephalus calls for the removal of the cause, sometimes by surgery. It can be prevented by the elimination of conditions injurious to the mother during pregnancy and the prevention of neuroinfections during childhood.
REFERENCEArendt, A. A. Gidrotsefaliia i ee khirurgicheskoe lechenie. Moscow,1948.
V. S. ROTENBERG