How to Say It: Ven-tric-cue-lo-perit-toe-neal shunt
This surgery is done to drain excess fluid from the brain to treat hydrocephalus. Excess fluid causes increased pressure in the head. This pressure can damage sensitive brain tissues. The shunt eases pressure on the brain by draining the extra fluid.
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Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:
The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:
General anesthesia will be given. Your child will be asleep.
Small incisions will be made in the scalp and belly. A small hole is made in the skull. The tube is passed through the hole into the skull. Then, the catheter is passed under the skin down to the belly. This end of the tube is pulled into the belly. The incisions are closed. A bandage will be placed over the incisions.
1 to 1½ hours
There will be discomfort at the incision sites that may last for a few days. Medicine and home care can help.
The usual length of stay is 3 to 7 days. If your child has any problems, they may need to stay longer.
Right after the procedure, the staff may:
During your child's stay, the hospital staff will take steps to lower your child's risk of infection, such as:
There are also steps you can take to lower your child's risk of infection, such as:
It will take about a week for the incisions to heal. Physical activity may be limited at first with a slow return to normal activities. Your child will need to delay returning to school.
Call the doctor if your child is not getting better or has:
Call for emergency medical services right away if your child has:
If you think your child has an emergency, call for medical help right away.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Canadian Paediatric Society
Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Canada
About normal pressure hydrocephalus. National Hydrocephalus Association website. Available at: https://www.hydroassoc.org/about-normal-pressure-hydrocephalus. Accessed September 8, 2021.
Hydrocephalus in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hydrocephalus-in-children. Accessed September 8, 2021.
Hydrocephalus information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Hydrocephalus-Information-Page. Accessed September 8, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Kari Kuenn, MD
Last Updated: 9/8/2021