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What are the symptoms of shunt malfunction in hydrocephalus?

Hydrocephalus is a build-up of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) within the head because of a blockage to the flow or drainage. Approximately 80% of people with Spina Bifida have hydrocephalus that requires a shunt or other treatment. The symptoms of shunt malfunction are varied and can be confusing for both families and health care providers. The most common symptoms are headaches, nausea, and vomiting. Less common symptoms of shunt malfunction can include seizures, a significant change in intellect, school performance, or personality. The symptoms of shunt malfunction can be difficult to spot. You should visit a doctor if you notice any major change without an obvious cause to find out if it is caused by a shunt malfunction. All patients with hydrocephalus should be evaluated by a neurosurgeon at least every 1-2 years.

For more information on this question and other related topics, SBA offers a series of fact sheets and publications. Additional questions or requests for information should be sent to the SBA National Resource Center.