Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt

Inserting a shunt is the most common way to effectively relieve dangerous buildup of cerebral fluid (hydrocephalus). Our neurosurgeons have a proven track record of success with the procedure. Shunts are composed of three parts:

  • A silicone tube (catheter) in the part of the brain (the ventricle) where cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) has built up
  • A one-way valve that controls how much fluid is drained out
  • Another tube that carries the excess fluid to another body area for safe reabsorption — usually the peritoneal cavity surrounding the abdominal organs

Learn more about the symptoms of hydrocephalus and our diagnostic approach.

Ventriculoperitoneal Shunts at St. Joseph’s Hospital

The high quality of our hydrocephaly care is based on several factors:

  • Experience: Our neurosurgeons recognize when a shunt is the best way to treat hydrocephaly, and when a newer approach called endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) is a better option. Learn more about endoscopic third ventriculostomy.
  • Advanced tools: We use a variety of shunts tailored to your condition, including those coated with antibiotics to prevent infection and those that are externally programmable for easy adjustment even after implantation. A special computer-assisted navigation system uses a 3D “map” created from imaging scans to provide your neurosurgeon with a GPS-like guide.
  • Continued care: Even with proper placement, you will need regular checkups of your shunt and possible replacement eventually. We make sure you get the care you need.

Ventriculoperitoneal (VP) Shunt: What to Expect

Our surgeons follow several steps when they place a shunt. We will:

  • Put you completely to sleep with general anesthesia.
  • Make a small, temporary incision in the skull (craniotomy), behind the hairline.
  • Place the first catheter in the fluid-filled ventricle.
  • Make a small incision behind the ear and thread the second catheter under the skin, down the neck and the chest to the peritoneal cavity.
  • Place the valve under the skin behind the ear and connect it to both catheters.
  • Repair the hole in the skull and the incision behind the ear.

You recover in the hospital from 1 to 7 days, depending on your condition. You later come in for checkups.

Contact Us

For more information or for a physician referral, please call (813) 644-4322.