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Treatment

Treatment of hydrocephalus depends on its cause. Occasionally, medications are used to slow the rate of cerebrospinal fluid production temporarily. However, this has not been successful for long-term treatment. Most cases require drainage of the excess fluid. A tube called a shunt is inserted into one of the cavities in the brain through a hole in the skull. The shunt is tunneled under the skin and carries the cerebrospinal fluid into another area of the body, such as the abdomen, where it can be absorbed. The shunt may need to be replaced periodically as a child grows or if an infection of it develops, or the shunt becomes blocked.

Some people with obstructive hydrocephalus can be treated with a technique called ventriculostomy in which a neurosurgeon makes an incision at the site of the blockage to allow cerebrospinal fluid to drain. Surgeons also are experimenting with surgical repair of congenital hydrocephalus while the fetus is still inside the mother's womb (uterus).

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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