Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is fluid that flows through ventricles or channels across your brain and spinal cord, protecting and transporting important nutrients. Cysts, tumours, or inflammation can block this system and lead to fluid build-up in the brain. This condition is called hydrocephalus, which can damage the brain due to the increased pressure from the excess fluid. A ventricular peritoneal (VP) shunt is a medical device inserted to relieve excess cerebrospinal fluid accumulation and reduce the pressure in the brain. The procedure works by diverting the excess fluid into another part of the body.
Ventricular peritoneal shunt is inserted under general anaesthesia. Your surgeon makes a small cut behind your ear. A small hole is drilled in the skull, through which a catheter is passed into the brain. Another catheter is placed beneath the skin behind the ear, which is directed towards your chest or abdomen. These catheters drain excess fluid away from the brain and into the abdomen, where it gets absorbed. A valve is connected to both catheters and is placed behind your ear. When there is extra build-up of pressure in the brain, the valve activates automatically, initiating the drainage of CSF.
As with any procedure, a VP shunt may involve certain risks and complications which include excessive bleeding, problem breathing, changes in blood pressure or heart rate, infection of shunt, abdomen or brain, blood clots, brain tissue damage and brain swelling.