Walter Edward Dandy studied abnormalities in the developing human brain in the United States in the twentieth century. He collaborated with pediatrician Kenneth Blackfan to provide the first clinical description of Dandy-Walker Syndrome, a congenital brain malformation in which the medial part of the brain, called the cerebellar vermis, is absent. Dandy also described the circulation of cerebral spinal fluid, the clear, watery fluid that surrounds and cushions the brain and spinal cord. That description led Dandy to examine how the impeded flow of cerebral spinal fluid caused congenital hydrocephalus, which occurs when fluid accumulates in the brain causes it to swell. Dandy discovered brain anomalies that primarily develop during embryonic development, and his work helped to detect brain abnormalities.

Hydrocephalus is a congenital or acquired disorder characterized by the abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid within the cavities of the brain, called ventricles. The accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid, the clear fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord, causes an abnormal widening of the ventricles. The widening creates potentially harmful pressure on the tissues of the brain that can result in brain damage or death. The most obvious sign of hydrocephalus is the rapid increase in head circumference or an unusual large head size due to the accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain. In infants, hydrocephalus can be caused by congenital factors such as malformations of the brain, or acquired factors such as tumors, cysts, meningitis, or bleeding. Treatment after the infant is born can lead to normal cognitive and physical development with few limitations.

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