Hydrocephalus and its treatment | Boston Children’s Hospital

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Learn more about the Hydrocephalus Program: http://www.childrenshospital.org/centers-and-services/hydrocephalus-program

Using live illustrations, Benjamin Warf, MD, Neurosurgeon at Boston Children's Hospital, explains hydrocephalus and options for treating it, including an innovate operation he pioneered called endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV).

Hydrocephalus, a buildup of excess cerebrospinal fluid in the brain, is a fairly common condition in children. As Dr. Warf explains in our Pediatric Playbook series, it is caused by a blockage of fluid movement out of the brain’s fluid spaces (ventricles). This can result from a tumor, brain hemorrhage, infection, or a congenital defect in the fluid passages.

Unless it’s treated, the buildup of fluid puts a pressure on the brain that can impair brain function and can even be life-threatening. The most common treatment for hydrocephalus is surgical placement of a shunt, a tube that drains the excess fluid and routes it into tubing in the child’s belly.

Because shunting often requires a number of operations to repair or replace the shunts as children grow, Dr. Warf has developed a surgical procedure that can avoid the need for shunts in many children. Called ETV, it passes an endoscope into the brain to make small opening in a membrane in the base of the ventricle. This bypassed the obstruction and allows the trapped fluid to escape.

For children who are good candidates for this operation, it can be a cure for hydrocephalus. For more information, call 617-355-6008 (international: +1-617-355-5209).
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