Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt Replacement

What Is a Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt Replacement?

Ventriculoperitoneal shunts are located in the brain where they drain off excess fluid placing pressure on the brain. Hydrocephalus symptoms may improve quickly or over an extended timeframe. For those with symptoms due to typical hydrocephalus, the shunt is likely to help. According to the Johns Hopkins Institute, 10% of patients improve rapidly but have a less effective long-term response.
Shunts can last up to six years but will eventually need to be replaced. Dr. Lewis performs ventriculoperitoneal shunt replacement surgery for patients that need a new one.

Ventriculoperitoneal Shunting Procedure

This operation relieves pressure on the brain due to an overabundance of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), called hydrocephalus. Whether installing a new shunt or performing ventriculoperitoneal shunt replacement, the surgery takes place under general anesthesia.
Typically, it lasts for 1 1/2 hours. A catheter is installed from the cavities of the head to the abdomen where the excess fluid drains.
Here are the steps involved in the procedure:

  1. Your head has to be shaved on the top or back.
  2. Dr. Lewis makes an incision behind your ear and another incision in the abdomen.
  3. To access the correct area, he drills a hole in the skull. One end starts at a brain ventricle, and an endoscope provides visibility inside the ventricle.
  4. Another catheter is placed subcutaneously behind the ear. It travels down the neck and into the belly. A few more incisions may be needed to pass the catheter down to the abdomen.
  5. A valve connects both catheters and opens when excess fluid builds up.
  6. Following the procedure, you will be moved to the recovery area and monitored before moving to a regular hospital room.

Reasons a Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt May Need Replacing

As with any other device, ventriculoperitoneal shunts require periodic replacements. Besides wear and tear, there are other conditions under which you will need a new shunt installed. These reasons include the following:

  • Blockages of the catheters or valve may require additional surgery and typically resolve without causing serious harm.
  • The shunt may over or underdrain cerebral spinal fluid. This often requires an emergency procedure to resolve the issue.
  • Infection can occur at several sites. Watch closely for infection at the surgical site, the shunt, or within the fluid of the brain and spinal cord, a condition called meningitis. If you develop a low-grade fever, redness along the shunt path, or sore muscles around the shunt, you may have an infection.
  • If hydrocephalus symptoms reappear, go to the nearest emergency room.

It’s hard to know how long your shunt will last. However, many shunts have to be replaced or corrected after about six years.
When you come to the Jackson Neurosurgery Clinic, Dr. Lewis will provide a consultation on your case and discuss possible treatment plans to resolve your ventriculoperitoneal shunt replacement or repair.

Contact the Jackson Neurosurgery Clinic for more information regarding ventriculoperitoneal shunt replacement and whether it can help you. Call (601) 366-1011 today for the soonest available appointment. We’ll find a solution that works for you.