Dandy-Walker Syndrome
all information

Dandy-Walker Syndrome

(Dandy-Walker Malformation; Dandy Walker Syndrome; Familial Dandy Walker; Dandy Walker Malformation)

En Español (Spanish Version)


Dandy-Walker syndrome is a brain deformity present at birth. The deformity involves the cerebellum, which is an area in the back of the brain that controls movement. The symptoms of this syndrome may develop suddenly or may go unnoticed.



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Dandy-Walker syndrome occurs during brain development before birth. The reason the brain does not develop normally is not clearly understood.

Risk Factors

Aside from association with certain inherited genetic conditions, there are no known risk factors. The following factors are associated with Dandy-Walker syndrome, but do not increase the risk of it’s occurrence.

  • Absence of the corpus callosum , which connects the brain's hemispheres
  • Malformations of the heart, face, limbs, fingers, and toes


Symptoms of Dandy-Walker syndrome often occur in infancy but can also occur in older children. Symptoms may include:

  • Impaired development of normal speech and language
  • Slow motor development
  • Irritability
  • Vomiting
  • Convulsions
  • Unsteadiness
  • Lack of muscle coordination
  • Jerky eye movements
  • Increased head circumference
  • Bulging of the back of the skull
  • Problems with the nerves that control the eyes, face, and neck
  • Abnormal breathing


Your doctor will ask about symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. He or she will also likely perform a CT or MRI scan to view the inside of the brain.


Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan. Treatment will depend on the problems caused by the syndrome. This may involve placing a special tube called a shunt inside the skull to drain excess fluid to reduce pressure and help control swelling.


There is no known way to prevent Dandy-Walker syndrome.


Children's Craniofacial Association

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke


Canadian Neurological Sciences Federation

Health Canada


Boltshauser EJ. Dandy-Walker syndrome. In: Gilman S, ed. MedLink Neurology. San Diego, CA: MedLink Corporation. Available at: http://www.medlink.com . Accessed August 10, 2007.

Dandy-Walker. Hyman-Newman Institute for Neurology and Neurosurgery website. Available at: http://www.nyneurosurgery.org/dandywalker.htm . Accessed May 22, 2007.

Dandy-Walker syndrome. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/dandywalker/dandywalker.htm . Accessed May 22, 2007.

Last reviewed April 2008 by Rimas Lukas, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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