Hydrocephalus, treated or untreated, results in a number of problems, some of which are described here. Untreated, hydrocephalus can result ultimately in death. Where its onset is relatively acute, the resulting increase in intracranial pressure will compress brain stem structures to the point at which neurovegetative functions are compromised. In more chronic courses, progressive neurological decline occurs, which will affect motor function, gait, and behavior.

Blindness may result from cortical lesions or damage to the visual pathways. Cortical blindness is caused by occlusion of the posterior cerebral arteries by downward pressure on them against the tentorial notch. Papilledema caused by increased CSF pressure may lead to optic atrophy and blindness.

Neurodevelopmental impairment can be attributed to both hydrocephalus and the initial condition that resulted in it. Hydrocephalus, where untreated, appears to cause sustained stretching of neurons and associated fibers, and this probably results in many of the clinical manifestations seen in the condition.

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