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Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt Placement


Ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt placement is a procedure to help remove excess fluid in the brain. The shunt consists of a catheter (tube), a valve, and a reservoir. The catheter is placed through the skull and into one of the ventricles (spaces) of the brain where the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) collects. It is connected to a valve and then to another catheter that runs underneath the skin into the abdomen. The CSF flows out through the catheter and is absorbed into your body. The reservoir holds a small amount of the CSF until pressure opens the valve. The valve helps control the amount of drainage.


Before your surgery:

  • An informed consent form is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you 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 medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • General anesthesia will keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. Caregivers may give you anesthesia through your IV. You may breathe it in through a mask or a tube placed down your throat. The tube may cause you to have a sore throat when you wake up.

During your surgery:

  • Your caregiver will make an incision in your head and create a hole in your skull for the catheter. This catheter is placed in a ventricle and connected to a valve. You may also need another incision behind the ear to create a pocket for the valve. The valve controls the amount of CSF that goes through the shunt. Near the valve is a reservoir. This reservoir lies under the skin of the head. The reservoir holds a small amount of the CSF until pressure opens the valve. Another catheter is attached to the valve and is passed under the skin and into your abdomen.

  • Your caregiver will make an incision made in your abdomen to place the bottom part of the catheter. This catheter may be placed by an open procedure or through a scope. CSF will flow through the catheter from your ventricle into the abdomen where it is quickly absorbed into your body. Your incisions will be closed with staples or stitches and covered with a bandage.

After your surgery:

You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. Caregivers will monitor you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay. When your caregiver sees that you are okay, you will be taken to your hospital room.

  • The catheter may need to be checked to make sure it is working properly. Your caregivers can check the flow by pressing the valve.
  • Your intracranial pressure (ICP) may be checked. The ICP is the pressure inside your skull.
  • Your caregiver may need to change the settings on your valve if your ICP is too high or too low.
  • A shunt tap may be done to check for inflammation or infection of the CSF. A small needle is put into the reservoir. A small amount of CSF is collected and sent to the lab for tests.
  • Imaging tests such as an MRI, a CT scan, or x-rays may be done to check for placement of the tube or to make sure the tube is not blocked.


You may get a headache that gets worse when you sit or stand. Your tube may become blocked or move out of place and you may need another surgery. You could have bleeding into your brain and you may need surgery to treat it. You may get an infection at the incision site or a more serious infection of your brain. There may be damage to your brain or the organs in your abdomen. Without treatment, your signs and symptoms may get worse and become life-threatening.


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

Further information

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