Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt for Hydrocephalus

A ventriculoperitoneal shunt treats hydrocephalus by diverting (shunting) the excess cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the ventricles of the brain to the abdomen and its membrane (peritoneum) to be reabsorbed.

What Is a Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt?

A ventriculoperitoneal shunt (VP shunt) is a small drainage catheter that is put in place during a neurosurgical procedure. By regulating the oversupply of CSF, the VP shunt regulates the intracranial pressure.

A cerebral shunt is inserted into one of the four ventricles of the brain and then drains into another part of the body:

  • Most often the abdomen: ventriculoperitoneal shunt
  • But the shunt can also drain excess CSF to the right atrium of the heart: ventriculoatrial shunt
  • Or the pleural cavity of the lung: ventriculopleural shunt

Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt Procedures

The VP shunt operation usually takes about an hour. In preparation, the patient is given anesthesia and, if needed, some of the scalp is shaved.

After a small incision in the skin, a small burr hole is made in the skull. A thin narrow catheter is guided through the hole and to the selected cavity of the brain. Another catheter is guided to the abdomen and the shunt valve is attached. This valve will regulate the amount of CSF in the brain and send the excess to the abdomen—or other cavity if it’s another type of cerebral shunt operation. A few days to a week of recovery in the hospital is usually needed.

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