A shunt is a hollow tube surgically placed in the brain (or occasionally in the spine) to help drain cerebrospinal fluid and redirect it to another location in the body where it can be reabsorbed.
What exactly is a shunt?
In medicine, a shunt is a hole or a small passage which moves, or allows movement of, fluid from one part of the body to another. The term may describe either congenital or acquired shunts; and acquired shunts (sometimes referred to as iatrogenic shunts) may be either biological or mechanical.
Does a shunt stay in forever?
VP shunts do not work forever. When the shunt stops working: The child can have another buildup of fluid in the brain.
How do shunts work?
To help drain the extra CSF from your brain, a VP shunt will be placed into your head. The VP shunt works by taking the fluid out of your brain and moving it into your abdomen (belly), where it’s absorbed by your body. This lowers the pressure and swelling in your brain.
Can you live a normal life with a brain shunt?
Overview. Many people with normal pressure hydrocephalus enjoy a normal life with the help of a shunt. Regular, ongoing checkups with the neurosurgeon will help ensure that your shunt is working correctly, your progress is on track, and you are free to keep living the way you want.
What are the side effects of a shunt?
Some of the most common risks of CSF shunts include infection, shunt malfunction, and improper drainage. Infection from a shunt may produce symptoms such as a low-grade fever, soreness of the neck or shoulder muscles, and redness or tenderness along the shunt tract.
Can you drink alcohol with a shunt?
There is no medical evidence that a shunt directly affects your reaction to alcohol. The causes of hydrocephalus are varied and specific causes may have affected brain development. An individual’s reaction to alcohol may vary based on their type of hydrocephalus or specific response to the substance.
How Serious Is shunt surgery?
A shunt is permanent, but because it can malfunction, it may have to be repaired or replaced throughout a person’s life. Other rare but serious problems can include infection and bleeding, usually within the first few weeks after the surgery.
Can you fly if you have a shunt in your brain?
Flying. Flying in a regular commercial jet is fine for most people with shunts. If you were told years ago not to fly, it’s worth asking your neurosurgeon again as things have changed.
How often should a shunt be checked?
All younger patients with a shunt should probably be encouraged to seek a neurosurgical check up at least every three years, ideally at a dedicated hydrocephalus follow up clinic.
What should you avoid with a VP shunt?
However, people with LP shunts should avoid any activity which involves twisting at the waist, as this can dislodge the shunt.
- Martial arts. Any activity that involves being grabbed around the neck is not advised, as the shunt tubing in the neck can crack.
- Gymnastics and dance.
- Water sports.
- Other activities.
Is a shunt considered brain surgery?
Shunt surgery is done by a specialist in brain and nervous system surgery (neurosurgeon). It’s done under a general anaesthetic and usually takes 1 to 2 hours. You may need to stay in hospital for a few days after the operation to recover. If you have stitches, they may dissolve or need to be removed.
What happens when a shunt stops working?
A shunt blockage can be very serious as it can lead to an build-up of excess fluid in the brain, which can cause brain damage. This will cause the symptoms of hydrocephalus. Emergency surgery will be needed to replace the malfunctioning shunt.
How long does a shunt last in the brain?
Shunting is successful in reducing pressure in the brain in most people. VP shunts are likely to require replacement after several years, especially in small children. The average lifespan of an infant’s shunt is two years. Adults and children over the age of 2 may not need a shunt replacement for eight or more years.
What are the 2 types of shunts?
A ventriculoperitoneal shunt moves fluid from the ventricles of the brain to the abdominal cavity. A ventriculoatrial shunt moves fluid from the ventricles of the brain to a chamber of the heart. A lumboperitoneal shunt moves fluid from the lower back to the abdominal cavity.