St. Luke's Hospital
Located in Chesterfield, MO
Main Number: 314-434-1500
Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Find a Physician Payment Options Locations & Directions
Follow us on: facebook twitter Mobile Email Page Email Page Print Page Print Page Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size Font Size
Meet the Doctor
Spirit of Women
Community Health Needs Assessment
Home > Health Information

Multimedia Encyclopedia


    Ventriculoperitoneal shunting

    Shunt - ventriculoperitoneal; VP shunt; Shunt revision

    Ventriculoperitoneal shunting is surgery to treatexcess cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain (hydrocephalus).

    This article discusses this type of surgery in children.


    This procedure is done in the operating room under general anesthesia. It takes about 1 1/2 hours.

    An area of hair on the child's head is shaved off. This may be behind the ear, or on the top or back of the head.

    The surgeon makes a cutin the shape of a horseshoe (U-shape) behind the ear. Another small surgical cut is made in the child's belly.

    A small hole is drilled in the skull. A small thin tube called a catheter is passed into a ventricle of the brain. This can be donewith or without a computer as a guide. It can also be done with an endoscope that allows to see inside the ventricle.

    Another catheter is placed under the skin behind the ear and moved down the neck and chest, and usually into thebelly area.Sometimes, it stops at the chest area. The doctor may make a small cut in the neck to help position it.

    A valve (fluid pump) is placed underneath the skin behind the ear. The valve is connected to both catheters. When extra pressure builds up around the brain, the valve opens, and excess fluid drains out of it into the belly or chest area. This helps decrease intracranial pressure.

    The valves in newer shunts can be programmed to drain more or less fluid from the brain.

    Why the Procedure Is Performed

    This surgery is done when you have too much cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain and spinal cord. This is called hydrocephalus. It causes higher than normal pressure on the brain. It can cause brain damage.

    Children may be born with hydrocephalus. It can occurwith other birth defects of the spinal column or brain.

    Shunt surgery should be done assoon as hydrocephalus is diagnosed.


    Risks for any anesthesia are:

    • Reactions to medications
    • Problems breathing
    • Changes in blood pressure or breathing rate

    Risks for any surgery are:

    • Bleeding
    • Infection

    Possible risks of ventriculoperitoneal shunt placement are:

    • Blood clot or bleeding in the brain
    • Brain swelling
    • Hole in the intestines (bowel perforation), which can occur later after surgery
    • Leakage of CSF fluid under the skin
    • Infection of the shunt or brain
    • Damage to brain tissue
    • Seizures

    The shunt may stop working. If this happens, fluid will begin to build up in the brain again.

    Before the Procedure

    If the procedure is not an emergency (planned surgery):

    • Tell your doctor or nurse what drugs, supplements, vitamins, or herbs your child takes.
    • Give any drugs the doctor told you to give your child. It is okay if they take them with a small sip of water.
    • The doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.

    Ask your doctor or nurse about eating and drinking before the surgery. The general guidelines are:

    • Older children should not eat any food or drink any milk for 6 hours before surgery, but they can have clear fluids (juice or water) up until 4 hours before the operation.
    • Infants younger than 12 months can usually eat formula, cereal, or baby food until about 6 hours before surgery. They may have clear fluids up until 4 hours before the operation.

    Your doctor may ask you to wash your child with a special soap on the morning of the surgery. Rinse well after using this soap.

    After the Procedure

    Your child will need to lie flat for 24 hours the first time a shunt placed. After that your child will be helped to sit up.

    The child will probably stay in the hospital for 2-4 days. Thehealth care team will closelymonitor your child.

    The child will receive:

    • Fluids through a vein
    • Antibiotics
    • Pain medicines, possibly

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    Shunt placement is usually successful in reducing pressure in the brain. But if hydrocephalus is related to other conditions, such as spina bifida, brain tumor, meningitis, encephalitis, or hemorrhage, these conditions could affect the prognosis. The severity of hydrocephalus present before surgery will also affect the outcome.

    Support groups for families of children with hydrocephalus or spina bifida are available in most areas.

    The major complications to watch for are an infected shunt and a blocked shunt.


    Etiological categories of neurological disease. In: Goetz CG, ed. Textbook of Clinical Neurology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 28.

    Kinsman SL, Johnston MV. Congential anomalies of the central nervous system. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 592.

    Simon TD, Riva-Cambrin J.Hospital care for children with hydrocephalus in the United States: utilization, charges, comorbidities, and deaths.J Neurosurg Pediatrics 1: 131-137 (2008).


    • Ventricles of the brain


    • Craniotomy for cerebral ...


    • Ventriculoperitoneal shu...


      • Ventricles of the brain


      • Craniotomy for cerebral ...


      • Ventriculoperitoneal shu...


      Review Date: 12/13/2011

      Reviewed By: Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, and Department of Anatomy at UCSF, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

      The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

      A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Fire Fox and chrome browser.

      Back  |  Top
      About Us
      Contact Us
      Locations & Directions
      Quality Reports
      Annual Reports
      Honors & Awards
      Community Health Needs

      Brain & Spine
      Sleep Medicine
      Urgent Care
      Women's Services
      All Services
      Patients & Visitors
      Locations & Directions
      Find a Physician
      Tour St. Luke's
      Patient & Visitor Information
      Contact Us
      Payment Options
      Financial Assistance
      Send a Card
      Mammogram Appointments
      Health Tools
      My Personal Health
      Spirit of Women
      Health Information & Tools
      Clinical Trials
      Employer Programs -
      Passport to Wellness

      Classes & Events
      Classes & Events
      Spirit of Women
      Donate & Volunteer
      Giving Opportunities
      Physicians & Employees
      For Physicians
      Remote Access
      Medical Residency Information
      Pharmacy Residency Information
      Physician CPOE Training
      St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
      Copyright © St. Luke's Hospital Website Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Notice of Privacy Practices PDF  |  Patient Rights PDF Sitemap St. Luke's Mobile