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Conditions We Treat: Hydrocephalus in Children

Hydrocephalus, or water on the brain, is an excessive buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in open areas of the brain due to a number of causes. An infant may be born with hydrocephalus due to a congenital condition or a child might acquire the problem later in life. Whatever the underlying cause of your child’s hydrocephalus, the experts at Johns Hopkins can help resolve it and address its risk to your child. 

Pediatric Hydrocephalus: Why Choose Johns Hopkins

Drawing of a child's brain in profile
  • At Johns Hopkins, neurosurgeons, neurologists, pediatric ophthalmologists and radiologists, among others, join together to develop the treatment plan for your child’s hydrocephalus and decide when and if surgery is the best option.

  • Our Pediatric Neurosurgery Center has access to the full range of diagnostic methods and effective treatments.

  • If surgery is recommended for your child’s hydrocephalus, you will find a dedicated and compassionate environment for healing at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, which offers comprehensive care and support for the entire family as well as the individual child.
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Pediatric Hydrocephalus Treatments

Johns Hopkins pediatric neurosurgeons have vast expertise in surgically managing hydrocephalus in infants and children, including shunts (small, flexible tubes) to drain the excess fluid and other procedures, including minimally invasive options.


Most often, hydrocephalus is treated surgically with the placement of a shunt to bypass the blockage that is causing the buildup, or to create a better flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). A shunt is a tiny silicone tube that allows for fluid to flow through it in one direction. A valve system regulates the flow and creates a reservoir of CSF that can be tested often to make sure the shunt is working properly and there are no signs of infection.

Alternatives to Shunts

Endoscopic third ventriculostomy: Certain types of hydrocephalus can be treated by making a tiny hole in the ventricles to re-create a normal flow. This alternative to shunting is an endoscopic approach that bypasses the blockage and creates a detour for the flow of CSF.

Our pediatric neurosurgeons are fellowship-trained and highly experienced in performing these endoscopic procedures. The benefits of an endoscopic approach include the elimination of placing foreign materials in the brain, which can result in fewer infections and less risk of complications.

Pediatric Hydrocephalus Specialists

The pediatric neurosurgeons at Johns Hopkins are members of the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network (HCRN), a national group of neurosurgeons at pediatric hospitals working together to conduct research aimed at improving the lives of patients and families living with hydrocephalus.

Dr. Shenandoah RobinsonEric Jackson, M.D., neurosurgeon at the Pediatric Neurosurgery Center


Alan R. Cohen, M.D.
Mari Groves, M.D.
Eric M. Jackson, M.D.
Shenandoah Robinson, M.D.

Advanced Practitioners:

Stephanie Berry, P.A.-C
Kelly Hartnett, P.A.-C.
Heather Kerber, P.A.-C.

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Pediatric Neurosurgery: 410-955-7337


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