Pronounced: Ven-tric-cue-lo-perit-toe-neal shunt
by Patricia Griffin Kellicker, BSN
A ventriculoperitoneal shunt operation is surgery to insert 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 TOP
This type of shunt is used to treat hydrocephalus, an condition that results in excess fluid in the brain. Excess fluid can cause increased pressure. This pressure can damage sensitive brain tissues. The shunt drains the excess fluid and reduces pressure on the brain.
Possible Complications TOP
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your child's doctor will review potential problems, like:
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 in the hand or arm.
Description of the Procedure TOP
A breathing tube will be placed to help your child breathe during surgery. The scalp and abdomen are cleaned with antiseptic. Small incisions will be made 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 TOP
After the surgery, your child will be taken to the recovery room for observation.
How Long Will It Take? TOP
How Much Will It Hurt? TOP
Anesthesia prevents pain during surgery. Your child will be given medication to manage pain after the procedure.
Average Hospital Stay TOP
Your child may be in the hospital for 3-7 days. Your child may stay longer if complications arise.
Post-procedure Care TOP
At the Hospital
During your child's stay, the hospital staff will also take steps to reduce the chance of infection, such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your child's chance of infection, such as:
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 emergency medical services right away for:
If you think your child has an emergency, call for emergency medical services 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:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed December 9, 2014.
NINDS Hydrocephalus information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated April 16, 2014. Accessed December 9, 2014.
Last reviewed December 2015 by Kari Kassir, MD
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at email@example.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.