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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.


The week before your surgery:

  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.
  • Arrange a ride home. Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery or procedure. Do not drive yourself home.
  • Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
  • Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your caregiver. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your caregiver if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.
  • Tell your caregiver if you have a blood disorder or have had a bleeding problem in the past.
  • Tell your caregiver if you take any medicine that may make you more likely to bleed. This includes aspirin or blood thinners.
  • You may need blood tests, x-rays, or other tests. Brain imaging tests, such as a CT scan or an MRI, may also be done. Ask your caregiver for more information about these and other tests that you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.

The night before your surgery:

Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of your surgery:

  • Ask your caregiver before you take any medicine on the day of your surgery. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital. Caregivers will check that your medicines will not interact poorly with the medicine you need for surgery.
  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
  • Caregivers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
  • An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell caregivers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.


What will happen:

  • 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 need another incision behind your ear to create a pocket for the valve. 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 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 your abdomen where it is absorbed by 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.


  • You cannot make it to your surgery.
  • You have a fever.
  • You get a cold or the flu.
  • You have questions or concerns about your surgery.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • The problems for which you are having the surgery get worse.


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.

Care Agreement

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.