Is a Shunt Right for You? Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension


To determine whether a shunt is right for you or your family member, your healthcare provider will use one or more diagnostic tests.

Diagnostic Procedures

There are several tests that can help to decide whether you are a candidate for a shunt. These same studies can also help evaluate the shunt in case of malfunction or infection.

Brain Imaging

You may have one of the following methods of brain imaging done1:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive diagnostic tool that uses radio signals and a magnet to form computer images of the brain, ventricles, and spine.
  • Computerized (axial) tomography (CAT or CT) scans are special x-ray techniques, which outline the ventricles and other structures of the brain in cross section.

Your physician will decide which type of brain imaging will work best in your situation.

MRI or CT are non-invasive diagnostic tools

An MRI or CT are non-invasive diagnostic
tools to help the physician make the
correct diagnosis.

Lumbar Puncture or Spinal Tap

The lumbar puncture or spinal tap is an invasive diagnostic test that allows CSF to be removed for examination and the pressure of CSF within the spinal column to be measured.


A lumbar puncture or spinal tap is used
to remove and test CSF from the lumbar
area of the spine.



Greenberg Mark S. Handbook of Neurosurgery, 7th ed. Thieme Medical Publishers; 2010;716.

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.