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Ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt surgery drains extra fluid out of the brain. The extra fluid moves into the belly and is absorbed by the body. This helps control the pressure in the brain so the brain can work as it should.
Some health problems can cause swelling and pressure in the brain. These include brain tumours and hydrocephalus, which is extra fluid in the brain.
The surgery is done in two parts. First, the doctor drills a small hole in your child's skull. A thin tube is then placed in the brain's fluid-filled part. Then the doctor threads a thin tube from a cut in your child's belly to the chest and neck. The two tubes are then connected with a valve. This allows the fluid to drain into the belly.
Your child will be asleep during the surgery. It usually takes about 2 hours. But your child will probably need to be in the hospital for 2 to 7 days.
The shunt won't limit your child's activities. There will be a lump on your child's head where the valve is. But it may not show after your child's hair grows back.
Surgery can be stressful for both your child and you. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your child's surgery.
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Current as of: April 8, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Barrie J. Hurwitz MD - Neurology
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