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Surgery: What to Expect – Implanting a Ventriculoperitoneal (VP) Shunt

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Detail - Ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt placement

Your healthcare team will walk you through the surgical process for shunt implantation, which includes important steps before, during, and after the procedure.

Before the Procedure

In order to help prevent infection, some of the hair on the patient’s head may need to be shaved. The medical team will wash the head and body with special soap. They will cover the patient with sterile linen to maintain a sterile environment throughout the procedure.

Your neurosurgeon will make sure you understand the procedure, and answer any questions you may have.

During the Procedure

The neurosurgery team performs the surgery in sterile conditions in an operating room under general anesthesia. The operation usually takes less than an hour. It involves the following steps:

  1. A small incision will be made in the scalp. A small hole will then be made in the skull.
  2. A tiny opening will be made in the protective coverings of the brain. These openings accommodate the catheter placement in the lateral ventricle.
  3. The neurosurgeon will make two or three small incisions to place the shunt valve (usually above or behind the ear).
  4. The catheter will be tunneled under the skin.
  5. The end of the catheter will be carefully placed in the appropriate receiving cavity (usually the abdomen).
  6. Following the operation, small sterile bandages will be applied to each incision.

After the Procedure

Immediately after surgery, the patient will be taken to the post-anesthesia care unit. They’ll stay there for close observation for an hour or so and then be taken to their room. Most patients leave the hospital within 2 to 7 days, depending on their clinical progress.

Although this is the usual procedure when a shunt is placed, each individual may have a slightly different experience based upon their neurosurgeon, hospital, and their particular medical needs.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.

Last updated: 22 Sep 2010

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