The UW Medicine Adult and Transitional Hydrocephalus Program

​​​​​​​​More than 1 million people in the U.S. live with hydrocephalus, a buildup of excess spinal fluid in the brain. The different types of hydrocephalus are:

  • Idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus (iNPH), typically seen in older adults 
  • Congenital hydrocephalus, which appears at birth 
  • Acquired hydrocephalus, which can appear at any age

Our services

The best treatment starts with the right diagnosis of these complex conditions, which are often misdiagnosed. We have years of experience assessing patients through brain imaging, gait analysis, spinal fluid pressure monitoring, and spinal fluid drainage.

Our team of neurologists, neurosurgeons and therapists evaluates and treats all forms of adult hydrocephalus. Treatment typically involves one of two surgeries: inserting a shunt to drain excess fluid, or an endoscopic procedure to restore normal spinal fluid circulation.

Treatment doesn’t end after surgery, and we’ll provide specialized, lifelong care for all adults. And our close partnership with Seattle Children’s Hospital ensures a seamless transition for children with hydrocephalus as they become young adults.

Our approach

People born with the disorder need lifelong, specialized care. But as children grow older and leave their pediatricians, their medical needs often go unmet, especially if they have complex health care needs requiring multiple specialists.

We aim to close this care gap by creating a new, seamless model of care to help patients be healthy and independent throughout their adult lives. Our specialists, who are familiar with the health care needs for adults with hydrocephalus at every age and every stage of life, will be able to access all of the resources and specialists of UW Medicine to achieve the best health care and quality of life possible for our patients.

To best understand our approach read Jade's story​ who, after visiting our team, has experienced a full recovery.


The Hydrocephalus Association acts as the nexus for research for the condition, as well as working to educate policymakers, the medical community, and the general population about the nature and extent of hydrocephalus. Dr. Michael Williams M.D., director of Adult and Transitional Hydrocephalus and CSF Disorders at UW Medicine, serves on the Hydrocephalus Association’s Board of Directors and Medical Advisory Board.

Dr. Williams was recently honored with the Hydrocephalus Association's​ Leadership Award​ for his 18 years of servic​e to patients with debilitating brain conditions​​.

Dr. Williams recently wrote an article detailing the diagnosis and treatment of Idiopathic Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus​ (iNPH).