Reasons for Procedure
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- Shunt failure
- Brain swelling
- Blood clot or bleeding in the brain
- Infection in the shunt or brain
- Damage to brain tissue
- Reaction to the anesthesia
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
- Do a neurological exam—This is to find out how your child’s nerves work. It involves evaluating mental status, as well as motor and sensory abilities.
- Order MRI or CT scans of the brain—Images of your child’s body will help the doctor plan the surgery.
- Answer any question that you have—Can my child take her regular medicines before the surgery? What kind of recovery can we expect? How soon will symptoms start to improve? What are signs that the shunt is not working?
- Instruct your child to not eat or drink before the surgery—Your child’s doctor will give you instructions about fasting based on your child’s age. Fasting may range from 6-12 hours before surgery.
Description of the Procedure
Immediately After Procedure
How Long Will It Take?
How Much Will It Hurt?
Average Hospital Stay
- Your child may need to lay flat for up to 24 hours after surgery.
- Your child’s heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, and brain status will be monitored closely.
- Your child will receive nutrition through an IV until she is ready to eat and drink.
- The shunt will be checked to make sure it is working.
- Antibiotics may be given. Pain medicine will be given as needed.
- Washing their hands
- Wearing gloves or masks
- Keeping your child's incisions covered
- Washing both you and your child's hands often, and reminding visitors and healthcare providers to do the same
- Reminding your child's healthcare providers to wear gloves or masks
- Not allowing others to touch your child's incision
- Follow the doctor’s instructions on bathing. You will probably not be allowed to soak your child’s head in water or wash her hair until healing is complete.
- Check the incision sites to make sure they are not infected.
- Do not let your child pick at the incisions.
Call Your Child’s Doctor
- Symptoms that went away return
- Stiff neck
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, a lot of bleeding, or any discharge from the incision site
- Vomiting (which may be a sign of the shunt not working)
- Pain that is not controlled with the medicines your child has been given
- Vision problems
- Being very sleepy
- Developmental delays
- Not eating or drinking enough
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Blue or gray skin color
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Not wanting to be held
Hydrocephalus Association http://www.hydroassoc.org
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke http://www.ninds.nih.gov
Canadian Paediatric Society http://www.cps.ca
Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Canada http://www.sbhac.ca
About normal pressure hydrocephalus. National Hydrocephalus Association website. Available at: http://www.hydroassoc.org/docs/AboutNormalPressureHydrocephalus-A%5FBook%5Ffor%5FAdults%5Fand%5FTheir%5FFamilies.pdf. Accessed September 17, 2009.
Neff DM. Discharge instructions for hydrocephalus. EBSCO Patient Education Reference Center website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/pointOfCare/perc-about. Updated March 24, 2009. Accessed date September 17, 2009.
NINDS Hydrocephalus information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/hydrocephalus/hydrocephalus.htm. Accessed September 17, 2009.
Professional Guide to Diseases. 9th ed. Ambler, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2009.
Ventriculoperitoneal shunt. Jefferson Hospital for Neuroscience website. Available at: http://www.jeffersonhospital.org/rx%5Ffiles/neurosurgery/venshunt9943.pdf. Accessed September 17, 2009.
- Reviewer: Kari Kassir, MD
- Review Date: 12/2013 -
- Update Date: 01/23/2014 -