What is it?

A shunt is a valve that regulates the flow of cerebrospinal fluid by draining if it from the brain or spinal column into the abdominal cavity or the heart. In patients with shunts, a shuntogram is an image-guided procedure where contrast material (dye) is placed in the shunt reservoir/valve and the speed at which it moves is observed to determine if there is a shunt malfunction or blockage.

What is it for?

It is performed if clinical assessments indicate that the shunt is not working properly.

How to prepare

  • Review your health history and medications you are taking with your doctor. It is important to note if you may have an infection or taking blood thinners.
  • Plan to have someone drive you home following the procedure


  • Bleeding
  • Shunt infection

What happens during?

  • You will be positioned lying down under an imaging system for approximately 30 minutes
  • The hair surrounding the shunt reservoir is clipped or shaved
  • It’s important to keep your head still during the procedure
  • The reservoir is punctured with a needle
  • You may experience slight discomfort
  • The contrast material (dye) in injected into the needle and flushed into the cerebrospinal fluid
  • Images are repeatedly taken to track the flow of the contrast material through the shunt system

What happens after?

  • You should get results 24 hours following the procedure
  • Sometimes the shuntogram by itself can determine if there is an abnormality but often results of the shuntogram are combined with assessments of other tests including MRI, CT and lumbar puncture.