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Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt

Alternate Names

  • VP shunt
  • Ventriculoperitoneal shunt

Definition

The ventriculoperitoneal shunt is a surgical procedure in which a tube or catheter is inserted into the ventricles, or cavities, in the brain to drain excess cerebrospinal fluid all the way down into the abdomen.

Who is a candidate for the procedure?

This procedure is performed on persons who have enlarged ventricles as a result of increased fluid in the brain. The procedure is commonly performed on infants with hydrocephalus, also known as water on the brain. However, it may be performed in other persons with brain tumors, normal pressure hydrocephalus, or head injuries.

How is the procedure performed?

This procedure is usually performed under general anesthesia, which means that the person is put to sleep, feels no pain, and has no awareness of the procedure while it is under way.
A small incision is made just behind and above the right ear. A hole is drilled in the skull, and the covering of the brain called the dura is opened. A plastic tube or catheter is placed into the ventricle.
A second incision is made in the right side of the abdomen and a second catheter is placed in the abdominal (peritoneal) cavity. A tunnel is made under the skin between the two incisions and the second catheter is brought up to the first catheter. The two catheters are then attached to a one-way valve. This allows the fluid to drain when the pressure in the brain becomes too high. The two incisions are closed.

Sources

The Merck Manual, 17th Edition; Current Medical Diagnosis&Treatment, 39th Edition.

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