A little boy from India who suffers from hydrocephalus has undergone surgery to remove nearly four litres of fluid from around his skull. Mrityunjay Das, who is seven months old, had a head that was 96 in diameter before treatment. Now, it measures 70cm.

Medics at the AIIMS hospital in Bhuwaneshwar where the six week treatment took place said the baby was first brough in to the centre in November with a huge amount of fluid in his head. Surgeons have now removed 3.7 litres of fluid, with the result that the little boys brain function has improved.

The boy’s parents have spoken of their relief not just for their son, but for the family as a whole, as they say they were shunned by neighbours because of their baby’s physical appearance. They said that people would call him names including “ghost baby” or “giant head” because of the way he looked and they hoped that their attitude would change when his head started to reduce to a normal size.

Risk of brain damage

The condition causes excess fluid to build up. This in turn can cause brain damage as a result of increased pressure. Previously, it was dubbed water on the brain, but the fluid is cerebrospinal and not water at all.

It can develop for a number of reasons, including as the result of spina bfida, or where a mother develops an infection like mumps or rubella while expecting. If not treated, it can cause mental and physical disabilities because of brain damage.

Medics in India have now fitted the baby with a shunt which drains away excess fluid to another part of the body where it can be absorbed into the bloodstream. The boy’s condition had become so severe that he was dubbed the boy with the world’s largest head.