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Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt

What is a Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt?

A ventriculoperitoneal shunt is a thin plastic tube that helps relieve pressure on the brain caused by hydrocephalus, a condition that occurs when a patient has extra cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).

CSF protects the brain by providing a cushion inside the skull. The fluid also delivers nutrients to the brain and removes waste products as it flows through brain ventricles and is then reabsorbed into the blood. When the flow is disrupted, the fluid can cause harmful pressure that can lead to brain damage.

The shunt that is surgically inserted has a one-way valve that removes the extra fluid so that pressure doesn’t build up in a patient’s brain.

How Does a Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt Work?

A valve in the shunt opens when fluid pressure in the brain gets too high, allowing fluid to drain into the peritoneal space. That extra fluid can be absorbed into the bloodstream and filtered out by the kidneys.

It should help relieve symptoms that a patient with hydrocephalus might experience, including headaches, seizures, irritability, memory loss, poor coordination, impaired vision and large head size.

What to Expect During the Procedure

‌Patients are given anesthesia for the hourlong procedure. The surgeon makes a small cut into the scalp behind the ear to insert the tip on the shunt into a ventricle in the brain. The shunt will be run under the skin to the abdomen, where another incision will be made. The incisions will be closed with stiches or staples and bandages. Patients typically stay in the hospital a few days. It will take a few weeks for full recovery. Your doctor will discuss follow-up care and symptoms to watch for following the procedure.

What you can expect at UTHealth Houston Neurosciences

UTHealth Houston Neurosciences brings together a multidisciplinary team of board-certified, fellowship-trained neurosurgeons, neurologists, researchers, and pain management specialists to help provide relief for even the most complex problems. Your team will share insights, leading to better treatment decisions and outcomes. You will receive expert care, excellent communication, and genuine compassion.

We first investigate nonsurgical treatment options, including medical management, pain management, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and watchful waiting. When surgery is needed, our neurosurgeons routinely employ innovative minimally invasive techniques. Throughout the treatment process, we will work closely with the doctor who referred you to ensure a smooth transition back to your regular care. While you are with us, you will receive expert care, excellent communication, and genuine compassion.

Contact Us

At UTHealth Houston Neurosciences, we offer patients access to specialized neurological care at clinics across the greater Houston area. To ask us a question, schedule an appointment, or learn more about us, please call (713) 486-8000, or click below to send us a message. In the event of an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.