Key Points: Hydrocephalus


•Enlargement of the head due to a problem with Cerebral Spinal Fluid

•Caused by:


—excessive amounts


—inadequately absorbed or obstruction of flow

•May be congenital or acquired

–Improper formation of the ventricles of the brain

–Tumor, trauma, hemorrhage, infection

Hydrocephalus: Signs & Symptoms

•Increasing head circumference

•Shrill high-pitched cry

•Lethargy, listlessness

•Perhaps irritability

•Strabismus—sclera seen above the eyes–“sunset eyes”

•Indicative of increased intracranial pressure

Hydrocehpalus: Nursing Care & Treatment

•Pre-Operative Care

–Daily head measurement

–Assessment of fontanels

–Special care for feeding


–Surgical shunt or by-pass with 24-48 hours

–Ventriculoatrial (V-A) or Ventriculoperitoneal (V-P)

Hydrocephalus: Post-Op Care

•Includes all pre-op care

•Watch for signs of increased ICP



–Vital signs changes

–Increasing head size

•Assess shunt line



Hydrocephalus: Parent Teaching

•To watch for and report signs of increased ICP.

•That the child will need to have a revision of the shunt periodically to accommodate growth.

•Treat the child as normal as possible with limitations on contact sports or activities.