A shunt system can be surgically implanted to alleviate the stretching of the brain caused by normal pressure hydrocephalus. A shunt is a small device placed in the brain that drains cerebrospinal fluid away from the brain and into the body, where it can be absorbed. During shunt surgery, a neurosurgeon makes a small incision in either the front or the back of the skull and places one end of a flexible tube called a ventricular catheter into the fluid cavity in the center of the brain. The other end of the catheter is tunneled under the skin to the abdominal cavity, a heart chamber, or the lung area, where spinal fluid can drain and be absorbed. A surgeon decides where the catheter ends based on the needs of each individual. A valve in the shunt regulates the flow of spinal fluid to prevent too little or too much drainage. The surgery requires general anesthesia, and usually takes 30 minutes to one hour.
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