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Starship Paediatric Neurosurgery

Public Service, Neurosurgery, Paediatrics

Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt

Ventriculoperitoneal shunt or VP shunt is a device used to divert the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from the ventricles in the brain to the abdominal cavity.  The fluid is then absorbed naturally through the peritoneal lining in the abdominal cavity back into the bloodstream.  A VP shunt needs to be surgically inserted under general anaesthetic by a neurosurgeon.  VP shunts are not without problems:

  • they can get blocked and require surgical revision
  • they can disconnect and require surgical revision
  • they can get infected and in this case they need to be removed and treatment with intravenous antibiotics is required. A week to 10 days later a new VP shunt can be inserted.

Symptoms of shunt failure can include:

  • headaches
  • vomiting
  • increased drowsiness
  • irritablilty
  • increasing head circumference (infants)
  • hard, bulging fontanelle (infants)
  • seizures
  • changes in pupils
  • sunsetting eyes
  • fever

If any of these symptoms occur the child needs to be brought to the Children's Emergency Department (CED) for assessment by the Paediatric Neurosurgical Registrar or to the family GP.

This page was last updated at 10:21AM on July 12, 2021.