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Accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the ventricles (cavities) of the brain. Hydrocephalus is caused by overproduction of CSF, congenital blockage that prevents drainage (seeneural tube defect), or complications of head injuries or infections. Normally, CSF circulates through the brain and spinal cord and drains into the circulation. In infants and young children, hydrocephalus causes the brain and skull to enlarge because the fontanels have not yet closed. Without surgery to divert the excess fluid into the blood or abdomen, accumulating fluid eventually compresses the brain, causing convulsions, intellectual disability, and death.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on hydrocephalus, visit Britannica.com.