Skip to Content

Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt Placement For Hydrocephalus In Children


Ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt placement is surgery to help remove excess cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in your child's brain.


Before your child's surgery:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your child's vein that is used to give him medicine or liquids.
  • General anesthesia will keep your child asleep and free from pain during surgery. Anesthesia may be given through your child's IV. He may instead breathe it in through a mask or a tube placed down his throat. The tube may cause your child to have a sore throat when he wakes up.

During your child's surgery:

  • A small area of hair on your child's head will be cut or shaved. Two small incisions will be made. One incision will be in your child's head and the other in his abdomen. One end of a shunt will be placed into your child's brain into one of the ventricles that has the excess CSF. This end of the shunt will be connected to a valve that controls the amount of CSF that goes through the shunt. Near the valve is a reservoir or pump. This pump that lies right under his scalp. This pump can be pressed by healthcare providers to check how the shunt is working.
  • Connected to the valve on the shunt is a catheter (tube). This catheter is tunneled under your child's skin, from his head to his peritoneal cavity (the area around the organs in his abdomen). The CSF will empty into his peritoneal cavity. It will be quickly absorbed into his blood. Some teenagers or tall children may need a small third incision made near the collarbone. Your child's incisions may be closed with staples or stitches. Bandages may be placed over the incisions.

After your child's surgery:

Your child will be taken to a room to rest until he is fully awake. He will be monitored closely for any problems. Do not let your child get out of bed until his healthcare provider says it is okay. He will then be taken to his hospital room.

  • Your child may need to stay in a certain position after surgery. You may need to keep the head of his bed slightly elevated or flat for a while.
  • A bandage may be placed around the top of your child's head. Another bandage may be on your child's belly or collarbone. These bandages should stay on until healthcare providers take them off. If any bandages come off, tell a healthcare provider so they can be put back on. Some children will not have any bandages.
  • Your child will be able to eat and drink gradually after surgery. Your child will begin with ice chips or clear liquids such as water, broth, juice, and clear soft drinks. If his stomach does not become upset, he may be able to eat soft foods, such as ice cream and applesauce. Once he can eat soft foods easily, he may slowly begin to eat solid foods.
  • A shunt tap may be done if healthcare providers want to check for an infection in the CSF. A small needle is put into the pump to collect a sample of CSF. This can be done while your child is awake and in bed. After the CSF is collected, it is sent to the lab for testing.
  • Medicines:
    • Antibiotics help treat or prevent a bacterial infection.
    • Antinausea medicine may be given to calm your child's stomach and to help prevent vomiting.
    • Pain medicine will decrease your child's pain. Do not wait until your child's pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.


Your child's tube may become blocked or move out of place, and he may need another surgery. Your child could have bleeding into his brain, and he may need surgery to treat it. He may get an infection at the incision site or a more serious infection in his brain.


You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.