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The implantation of a shunt usually allows people with normal pressure hydrocephalus to enjoy more normal lives. Like any surgery, however, the procedure carries certain risks.
Although there is currently no cure for hydrocephalus, a shunt can help relieve some of the symptoms of the condition.
A shunt redirects cerebrospinal fluid from the central nervous system to another area of the body. This technique allows the brain’s enlarged ventricles to return to a more normal size in an effort to relieve the symptoms of hydrocephalus. Relief of walking difficulties is most common, while relief of dementia is often less dramatic.
The surgical procedure to implant a shunt generally takes less than an hour to perform.
A shunt is designed to:
Unlike most surgical procedures, in which the risks are highest during the operation itself, most of the common problems associated with shunting can and do occur at a later time.
The most common complications with shunting for normal pressure hydrocephalus are infection and subdural haematoma due to overdrainage of cerebrospinal fluid.
Infection is a risk of all surgical operations, especially when a foreign body like a shunt is implanted. If left untreated, infection can cause the wound to open up or cause systemic infection with chills and high fever.
Infection usually requires removal of the shunt. In some cases, the infection can be controlled with intensive antibiotic therapy without removing the shunt.
Symptoms of infection may include unusual redness or swelling of the wounds along the length of the shunt.
A shunt-related haematoma can occur as a result of a fall, even if there are no apparent injuries.
Symptoms associated with a subdural haematoma vary, and may include:
Patients & caregivers: This information is designed to provide you with helpful educational information but is for information purposes only, is not medical advice, and should not be used as an alternative to speaking with your doctor. No representation is made that the information provided is current, complete, or accurate. Medtronic does not assume any responsibility for persons relying on the information provided. Be sure to discuss questions specific to your health and treatments with a healthcare professional. For more information please speak to your healthcare professional.