Cerebrospinal Fluid Shunt - Overview

Placements of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) shunt are commonly used to treat hydrocephalus. These shunt sy s drain excess fluid from the brain to the other part of the body where the fluid is absorbed as part of the circulatory process. The swelling of the brain due to excess buildup of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is a medical procedure that relieves pressure on the brain that is caused by fluid accumulation. The procedure is done when there is too much pressure in the brain caused due to CSF accumulation, a medical condition called hydrocephalus. It mostly occurs in babies and older adults. 

Normally, cerebrospinal fluid flows through the ventricles of the brain, thereby immersing the brain and spinal cord in it and eventually gets absorbed in the blood. When this normal flow is interrupted, it causes fluid accumulation and puts harmful pressure on brain tissues. VP Shunt drains fluid from the brain to other parts of the body where the fluid is absorbed.

Cerebrospinal Fluid Shunt - Symptoms

This surgery is recommended to patients those who have swelling, cysts, tumors, or inflammation in the brain due to excess buildup of cerebrospinal fluid. Excess fluid occurs mainly due to

  • Blockages that stop the flow of the fluid 
  • Excess production of CSF
  • Inability of blood vessels to absorb the fluid

Some of the common symptoms include visible increase in the size of head, poor appetite, frequent headaches and seizures, loss in memory and poor co-ordination between thoughts and actions.

Cerebrospinal Fluid Shunt - Pre-Procedure

Before the surgery your surgeon will recommend you to:

  • Conduct imaging tests of the brain like MRI and CT Scan to determine the exact location of excess fluid
  • To stop blood thinners, at least 10 days before the procedure
  • You should stop eating 6 hours prior to the procedure

Cerebrospinal Fluid Shunt - During Procedure

The procedure is performed under general anesthesia by an experienced neurosurgeon, and usually it takes around 90 minutes. First your surgeon will put a small cut behind the ear and another in the belly, after administering the anesthesia. Then your surgeon will drill a small hole in the skull and pass a catheter into a ventricle of the brain. After that another catheter is placed under the skin behind the ear and is made to travel to the chest and abdomen. A pump (valve) is attached to both catheters and placed behind the ear. When the pressure in the skull increases, this pump will help in automatically removing the fluid into the belly area.

Cerebrospinal Fluid Shunt - Post-Procedure

Once the procedure is finished; the patient is required to stay in the hospital for almost a week. The doctor and his team closely monitor the patient’s vitals. The patient is taught how to take care of the shunt at home and how to prevent any infection from developing. In babies, the shunt needs to be replaced after 2 years while in older adults, it has to be replaced after 8 years.

Cerebrospinal Fluid Shunt - Risk & Complications

Cerebrospinal Fluid Shunt Surgery might have the following risks and complications:

  • Leakage of the fluid under the skin
  • Bowel perforation (holes in the intestines)
  • Shunt blockage
  • Bleeding, swelling or blood clot in the brain
  • Dysfunction of the shunt may cause frequent headache, fatigue fever, and infection.

More Info

You can get back to your normal activities when your doctor tells you its okay. If you plan to exercise, it’s better to consult your doctor if it’s safe. You will also have regular visits with your neurologist, neurosurgeon, or both. They will keep a check on the function of your Cerebrospinal Fluid shunt over time. If you have any additional questions, talk to our doctors.

Cerebrospinal Fluid Shunt - Doctors

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    More Info About Cerebrospinal Fluid Shunt

    Procedure Cost in USD Stay in Hospital Stay in India Total Days
    CSF 6000-6500 4 days 15 days 19


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