Pronounced: Ven-tric-cue-lo-perit-toe-neal shunt
by Patricia Griffin Kellicker, BSN
A ventriculoperitoneal shunt operation is a surgery where a doctor inserts a drainage tube (catheter) into the brain. The tube runs into the abdominal cavity. This tube is used to move extra fluid in the brain to the abdomen where it can be absorbed. The entire tube is under the skin and not visible.
Reasons for Procedure
This type of shunt is used to treat hydrocephalus. It happens when there is too much fluid in the brain. Extra fluid can cause increased pressure. This pressure can damage sensitive brain tissues. The shunt drains the extra fluid and reduces pressure on the brain.
Possible Complications TOP
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If your child is going to have this surgery, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Be sure to discuss these risks with the doctor before the surgery.
What to Expect TOP
Prior to Procedure
At your child’s doctor appointment before the surgery, the doctor may:
General anesthesia will be used. It will block any pain and keep your child asleep during the surgery. It is given through an IV (needle) in the hand or arm.
Description of the Procedure
A breathing tube will be placed to help your child breathe during surgery. The scalp and abdomen are cleaned with antiseptic. The doctor will make small incisions in the scalp and abdomen. A small hole is made in the skull. A catheter is passed through the hole into your child’s brain. Then the catheter is tunneled under the skin down to the abdomen. This end of the catheter is put into the abdominal cavity. The incisions are closed and a dressing is applied to each area.
Immediately After Procedure
After the surgery, your child will be taken to the recovery room for observation. If all is well, the breathing tube will likely be removed there. Your child will be moved to a hospital room to recover.
How Long Will It Take?
How Much Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia prevents pain during surgery. Your child may be given medicine to treat pain and soreness after surgery.
Average Hospital Stay
Your child may be in the hospital for 3-7 days. Your child’s doctor may choose to keep him longer if complications arise.
At the Hospital
When your child is at home, do the following for a smooth recovery:
Call Your Child’s Doctor TOP
After your child leaves the hospital, contact the doctor if any of the following occurs:
Call for medical help or go to the emergency room right away if any of the following occurs in your child:
If you think you have 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: http://www.hydroas... . Accessed September 17, 2009.
Neff DM. Discharge instructions for hydrocephalus. EBSCO Patient Education Reference Center website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/pointOfCare/perc-about . Updated March 24, 2009. Accessed date September 17, 2009.
NINDS Hydrocephalus information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.n... . Accessed September 17, 2009.
Professional Guide to Diseases . 9th ed. Ambler, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2009.
Ventriculoperitoneal shunt. Jefferson Hospital for Neuroscience website. Available at: http://www.jeffers... . Accessed September 17, 2009.
Last reviewed March 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 03/15/2013