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What Does A Shunt Do In The Brain

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How Is Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus Diagnosed

Draining the Brain: Shunts and their Role in Treating Hydrocephalus

Diagnosis begins with a careful review of symptoms and medical history. medical interview and a physical exam. Other tests include:

  • Imaging tests. A CT scan or MRI of the head is done to look for enlarged ventricles in the brain.
  • Cerebrospinal fluid tests. These tests include a spinal tap and external lumbar drainage. During a spinal tap, a small sample of cerebrospinal fluid is removed and the patient is assessed to see if the symptoms improve. During external lumbar drainage, cerebrospinal fluid is removed through a special catheter over a 36-hour period to further see if symptoms improve dramatically and to test the potential benefit of implanting a shunt .
  • Gait analysis . This is a timed walk test. The patient is watched as he or she walks 10 meters .
  • Neuropsychological testing. This involves a series of assessments to determine if there is a loss of brain function due to NPH.

Recovery Post Vp Shunt Surgery

VP shunt surgery is a major procedure as it involves implanting a device in the brain which will regulate and monitor the fluid content of the brain so that it can function properly. Thus, post surgery recovery of vp shunt may take time as the candidate needs to adjust with the new device monitoring inside the head. Where in case of some candidates the recovery period may require only 3 to 4 days, Iin other cases, it may extend to over a week. In general, the candidate can get back regular activities after one week of complete rest. However, one must keep in mind to not indulge into activities that involve physical blows to head for approximately six weeks.

How To Prepare For A Vp Shunt And What To Expect

Placement of a VP shunt requires a procedure that involves brain surgery and surgery of the abdominal region.

You may have already had a VP shunt placed as an emergency due to rapidly worsening intracranial pressure. If you are scheduled to have a VP shunt, you are likely to have a series of pre-operative tests and you are going to be given instructions about when you can eat and drink in the days or hours before your surgery. In addition, you are likely to need someone to take you to the hospital and someone to take you home after the procedure.

If you have a VP shunt, you should be observant about headaches, weakness, or blurred vision and let your medical team know if you experience any of these symptoms. Your level of recommended physical activity might need to be somewhat adjusted so that the shunt can stay safe, secure, and clean.

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Surgical Shunt Placement After A Traumatic Brain Injury

Surgical shunt placement could be a necessary treatment after someone suffers a traumatic brain injury. A TBI is always a severe injury and deserves the attention of a trained medical professional. Neurologic damage has the potential to cause lifelong complications and requires a well-rounded treatment approach. Some of the components of TBI treatment include:

  • Medical management to control issues such as chronic pain, blood pressure irregularities, and even memory loss.
  • Trained therapists and specialists who can work to restore motor function that might have been lost.
  • Consultation with mental health professionals who can manage issues such as depression and anxiety.
  • Potential surgery to relieve increased intracranial pressure.

In some cases, individuals might need to have a surgical shunt placed.

Yuba City Brain Injury Lawyers

Cerebral shunt

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In Your Hospital Room

The length of time youre in the hospital after your surgery depends on your recovery. Most people stay in the hospital for 1 to 2 days.

When youre taken to your hospital room, youll meet one of the nurses who will care for you while youre in the hospital. While youre in the hospital, your nurses will teach you how to care for yourself while youre recovering from your surgery.

For the first few days after your surgery, your nurses will do simple tests to make sure your brain is working well. Theyll do things such as:

  • Ask you questions such as where you are and what time of day it is.
  • Ask you to move your arms and legs.
  • Shine a small light into your eyes to check the response of your pupils.

Read the resource to learn about what you can do to stay safe and keep from falling while youre in the hospital.

Managing your pain

You may have a mild headache or feel discomfort around your incision for the first few days after your surgery.

At first, youll get pain medication in your IV line. Once youre able to eat normal food, youll get oral pain medication .

Your healthcare providers will ask you about your pain often and give you medication as needed. If your pain isnt relieved, tell one of your healthcare providers. Its important to control your pain so you can use your incentive spirometer and move around. Controlling your pain will help you recover better.

Moving around and walking

Exercising your lungs

Eating and drinking

Imaging scan

Caring for your incision

How Do Vp Shunts Work

Most shunts have two catheters connected by a valve. One end of the upstream is in a ventricle. The other end of the downstream catheter is in the peritoneal cavity. This is the space inside the belly where the stomach and the bowels sit. The shunt is all inside the body, under the skin.

The valve opens when the pressure in the brain gets too high. This lets fluid drain from the brain into the peritoneal space. From there, the extra fluid is absorbed into the bloodstream and filtered out in the kidneys. Then the body can pee out the extra fluid.

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How Long Does It Take For An Adult To Recover From Shunt Surgery For Hydrocephalus

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Contacting A Brain Injury Lawyer

Shunts and other Surgery for IIH (“water on the brain”, Acquired hydrocephalus)

Brain surgery can be a scary event for families to process. Sometimes, there are lingering questions with which families deserve help. This is where a Yuba City Brain Injury Lawyer can provide crucial assistance. A compassionate brain injury lawyer can help families review the records from the accident, seek damages related to the injury, and even move the case to trial if needed. Families should never feel obligated to face this tough situation alone. Reach out to a brain injury lawyer in Yuba City today. You could be deserving of a financial reward.

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What Happens After Surgery

The patient remains in the hospital 2 to 3 days. At first, the area over the shunt may be raised up, but as the swelling goes away, the shunt is usually not noticeable. Spinal headaches are caused by leakage of CSF around the catheter or shunt site. Lie flat and drink plenty of caffeinated noncarbonated fluids .

Patients should take it easy for several weeks after surgery, with no bending, twisting, heavy lifting, or wearing of tight-fitting hats. Incisions need time to heal. Patients may shower as directed by their surgeon but should not take a tub bath or submerge in water for 4 weeks. Incisions should be patted dry with a soft towel to avoid irritation.

If the patient has a severe headache, vomiting, and a stiff neck that prevents lowering the chin to the chest ââ¬â this is an emergency ââ¬â go to a hospital. These are signs of bleeding in the brain.

Are There Any Risks From Vp Shunts

VP shunts are generally safe, but there are some risks during and after the surgery. There can be bleeding, or an infection can develop.

VP shunts do not work forever. When the shunt stops working:

  • The child can have another buildup of fluid in the brain.
  • Another surgery is needed to fix it.

Problems with a VP shunt happen even with regular care and at unpredictable times. The shunt can get worn out or move as a child grows.

A shunt also can get infected, which can be very serious. It’s important for families to follow the surgeon’s instructions for when to call and when to go to the ER. This way, treatment for an infected or worn out shunt can start as soon as possible.

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What Are The Different Types Of Hydrocephalus

Hydrocephalus can affect anyone at any age but is most common in infants and older adults. Some of these cases can be associated with abnormalities in the brain and spinal cord during pregnancy. The two major types of hydrocephalus are called communicating hydrocephalus and non-communicating hydrocephalus.

Communicating hydrocephalus occurs when the flow of CSF is blocked after it exits the ventricles. This form is called communicating because the CSF can still flow between the ventricles, the passages between which remain open. Reduced flow and absorption of CSF into specialized blood vessels called arachnoid villi can also result in a buildup of CSF in the ventricles and communicating hydrocephalus.

  • Non-communicating hydrocephalus happens when the flow of CSF is blocked along one or more of the narrow passages connecting the ventricles.

Two additional types of hydrocephalus include:

How Does A Vp Shunt Work


âA ventriculoperitoneal shunt has a one-way valve, a device that only allows fluid to move down away from the brain. The valve has a pressure setting. When there is too much cerebrospinal fluid and pressure starts to build, the valve opens and allows CSF to drain until the pressure is restored to the setting chosen by your doctor.

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The Morning Of Your Surgery

Take your medications as instructed

If your healthcare provider told you to take certain medications the morning of your surgery, take only those medications with a sip of water. Depending on what medications you take, this may be all, some, or none of your usual morning medications.


Shower and wash your hair with baby shampoo the morning of your surgery. Dont use conditioner or any other hair products such as hair spray or hair gel. After showering, dont put on any lotion, cream, deodorant, makeup, powder, perfume, or cologne.

Things to remember

  • Wear something comfortable and loose-fitting.
  • If you wear contact lenses, wear your glasses instead. Wearing contact lenses during surgery can damage your eyes.
  • Dont wear any metal objects. Remove all jewelry, including body piercings. The equipment used during your surgery can cause burns if it touches metal.
  • Dont put on any lotion, cream, deodorant, makeup, powder, perfume, or cologne.
  • Leave valuable items at home.
  • If youre menstruating , use a sanitary pad, not a tampon. Youll get disposable underwear, as well as a pad if needed.

What to bring

Where to park

MSKs parking garage is located on East 66th Street between York and First Avenues. If you have questions about prices, call .

There are also other garages located on East 69th Street between First and Second Avenues, East 67th Street between York and First Avenues, and East 65th Street between First and Second Avenues.

Once youre in the hospital

What Is The Difference Between Fixed And Programmable Shunts

âFixed valves have three to five pressure settings. A higher pressure setting typically drains less CSF, and a lower pressure setting usually drains more fluid.

The setting of a fixed valve is chosen before the shunt is placed. It cannot be changed without further surgery. In clinical trials, fixed and programmable valves have worked equally well. The different brands of valves also tend to work about the same in these trials.

Programmable valves, also called adjustable valves, can be adjusted without further surgery. Your doctor can change the pressure setting of this valve during an office visit, using a special magnet. Surgeons tend to choose programmable valves for most shunt placements.

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How A Shunt Helps

Hydrocephalus symptoms may improve within days of shunt surgery, or may take weeks to months to get better.

Other neurological or medical conditions can affect recovery. If your symptoms are mostly due to normal pressure hydrocephalus as opposed to other conditions, the shunt is likely to help alleviate them.

About 10 percent of patients show some improvement soon after a shunt is placed, but show less of a long-term response. The reasons for this are not well understood.

Other patients may develop additional disorders of the brain that also affect gait and memory that will not respond to drainage from the shunt.

What Are The Risks

Hydrocephalus and its treatment | Boston Childrens Hospital

No surgery is without risk. Potential complications from the surgery itself include bleeding in the brain or ventricles, infection, seizures, and problems with anesthesia.

Complications that can occur later include shunt malfunction from a clog or infection. This causes CSF to build up and a return of the original symptoms. Call the doctor if you experience abnormal symptoms. Blockages can often be fixed. In rare cases, the shunt may need to be replaced.

If the ventricles decrease in size too rapidly, the brain can pull away from the skull and tear small blood vessels. This can cause blood clots around brain . Programming of the shunt to drain CSF at the proper rate and regular follow up visits with the doctor ensures the system is working optimally.

Some symptoms of shunt malfunction:

  • Difficulty walking/gait disturbances
  • Fever
  • Redness along the shunt tract

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Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus Prevention

There is no known way to prevent NPH. A healthy lifestyle, including not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and regular exercise, may help avoid conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke that might contribute to NPH. Wearing a seatbelt and safety helmet when indicated can help avoid head injury, another cause of NPH.

Is A Vp Shunt Permanent

Depending on the circumstances, a VP shunt can be temporary or permanent. If the cause of your hydrocephalus is idiopathic , congenital , or the result of a defect in the anatomy of the brain or spine, there is a strong chance that you will need to have your VP shunt for the long term.

However, if your VP shunt is placed for a sudden emergency, such as swelling from a stroke, an infection of the brain, or bleeding in the brain, then there is a high chance that your shunt can be removed once the cause of the swelling is resolved.

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After Vp Shunt Surgery

After surgery, when you wake up, you are transferred to the recovery unit. Your body is attached to various machines that monitor the vital signs of your body such as blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, and oxygen level. You may feel tired after the surgery but it is quite normal.

For the first few days after surgery, the nurses may ask questions from you to find out if your brain is functioning properly. A computed tomography scan of your head may be conducted one or two days after the surgery to confirm that the shunt is in place.

Your neck or belly may feel tender after the surgery. You may feel tired but there will not be much pain. You may experience headaches for a few weeks after surgery. You will also feel some fluid moving around in your scalp, however, it is common. This will go away as your scalp starts to heal.

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Potential Complications Of An Intracerebral Surgical Shunt

Life with a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) shunt

Brain surgery always carries its risks. While these risks are sometimes necessary, everyone should be aware of complications. Some of the potential complications of a surgical shunt include:

  • Possible blood loss that could occur during the procedure.
  • A possible allergic reaction to the anesthesia.
  • The development of an infection of either the brain or the shunt itself.
  • Possible damage to the brain tissue near the shunt.

Steps are taken to minimize the development of these complications. If placed correctly, the shunt should help reduce the intracranial pressure.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus

There are three classic symptoms of normal pressure hydrocephalus :

  • Difficulty walking. This problem can be mild or severe. In many cases, people with NPH have trouble picking up their feet. Some describe it as feeling like their feet are stuck to the floor. This can lead to a shuffling walk and problems going up stairs and curbs. It also increases the risk of falling.
  • Dementia. This often involves confusion, short-term memory loss/forgetfulness, trouble paying attention, changes in mood, and a lack of interest in daily activities.
  • Problems with bladder control. Problems include urinary incontinence , frequent urination, and a strong feeling of needing to urinate.

What Are The Signs That A Shunt Needs To Be Reviewed And/or Replaced

Problems can develop if your childs shunt becomes blocked, disconnected or an infection develops. The signs that the shunt is not working are similar to the signs that the child has too much fluid in the brain.

If you notice any of the signs below, take your child to your closest emergency department or call 000 in an emergency.

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