Hydrocephalus is a condition caused by excessive fluid in and around the brain. It occurs from a lack of absorption, blockage of the flow or overproduction of the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) made within ventricles of the brain. It occurs in approximately one in 500 births, according to specialists at the University Center for Fetal Medicine.
It may be diagnosed by routine prenatal ultrasound. Fetal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used to assess the degree of ventriculomegaly, rule out associated anomalies and evaluate for possible causes.
Routine pregnancy care will continue throughout the pregnancy. Delivery should occur at a tertiary care center as the neonate will need MRI and neurosurgical consultation. Surgical treatment for symptomatic hydrocephalus is a ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt. The VP shunt redirects fluid into a cavity in the abdomen or other part of the body. Long-term follow-up will be required to monitor hydrocephalus and shunt function. Genetic counseling may be recommended to discuss the risk of recurrence in future pregnancies as well as prenatal testing for hydrocephalus.