Hydrocephalus is an excess of fluid in the brain

Hydrocephalus, once called "water on the brain," is a build-up of fluid deep inside brain cavities. It is usually caused by a blockage that does not allow cerebrospinal fluid to properly flow, leading to impacts in brain function. Hydrocephalus most often affects infants and individuals over 60. In adults, most frequent hydrocephalus symptoms include:

  • Balance issues
  • Lack of control over bladder/frequent urination
  • Memory, mood and/or vision problems
  • Headaches

Diagnosis and treatment of hydrocephalus


Patients are diagnosed with hydrocephalus through a neurological exam and brain imaging studies. After diagnosis, there are two primary hydrocephalus treatment options the neurosurgeons on the staff at Baylor Scott & White Health may recommend based on a patient’s circumstances. Treatment options for hydrocephalus include:

  • Shunt: a tube placed inside the brain to drain fluid
  • Lumbar: a small tube inserted in the lower back to drain fluid

Learn more about neuroscience care