hydrocephalus (hĪˌdrəsĕfˈələs) [key], also known as water on the brain, developmental (congenital) or acquired condition in which there is an abnormal accumulation of body fluids within the skull. The congenital form may be associated with other abnormalities. The acquired form may follow meningitis or another cerebral inflammation or tumor. The accumulation of fluid causes compression of the brain and enlargement of the skull, sometimes with separation of bone structures. Paralysis and death may result or, at the least, mental retardation. Many forms of therapy, including surgery, have been attempted, but usually without much success in extreme cases.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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