Types and VP Shunt Surgery Procedure: What You Need to Know

Types and VP Shunt Surgery Procedure: What You Need to Know

VP shunt or ventriculoperitoneal shunt surgery is used for treating conditions like hydrocephalus. The procedure has been found to be effective in relieving the pressure caused because of the buildup of excessive fluid in the brain. Thus, preventing brain damage or even death. If you or your loved one is undergoing VP shunt surgery, here we have discussed different aspects of the treatment with you.

What happens in a VP shunt surgery?

Your neurosurgeon will give you general anesthesia before the surgery. Once you are asleep, the surgeon will make an incision behind your ear and drill a tiny hole in the skull. Then, the inflow catheter will subsequently be inserted into the brain by the surgeon. This can be performed with or without the help of a computer or an endoscope as a guide. Subsequently, a valve will be attached to the end of the catheter to see how it works.

The surgeon will then place a second catheter under the skin behind your ear. This catheter usually travels down to the belly area. The surgeon may make additional incisions near your collarbone or in the neck so that the catheter can be placed correctly.
Both catheters are connected by the valve. When there is a build-up of extra pressure in your brain, this will lead to the opening of the valve. Then, the excess fluid will travel through the catheter to your belly. Here,  the fluid will be reabsorbed by your body thereby reducing the pressure inside your brain.

The entire procedure can last for about one and a half hours. After the surgery, the incisions will be sutured.

What Are The Types Of VP Shunts?

There are primarily two types of ventriculoperitoneal shunts:

  • Programmable shunts: A  programmable shunt has an adjustable valve present externally that your doctor can readjust as per your needs. This type of shunt allows the doctor to adjust your setting even after the shunt has been placed.
  • Non-programmable shunts: With a non-programmable shunt, the surgeon cannot readjust the settings once the shunt has been placed. The valve is adjusted so that it activates when the fluid inside the brain reaches beyond a certain threshold.

How Can You Prepare For Your VP Shunt Surgery?

There are certain steps that you can follow to prepare for your VP shunt surgery. Some of these are:

  • You should refrain from drinking alcohol as this can affect your recovery.
  • You should inform your doctor about the current medicines you have been taking. This is important as your doctor may tell you to stop taking certain medications.
  • Provide information to your doctor about any other health issues you may be facing such as heart disease.
  • Discuss your allergies and conditions such as sleep apnea
  • Avoid any unnecessary supplements
  • Prepare a list of questions you wish to ask your doctor about the surgery and recovery so that you know the steps to be taken to have a faster and safe recovery.

What Are The Risks Of VP Shunt Surgery?

Though VP shunt surgery is a safe procedure it is possible for your shunt to get infected. This is a medical emergency and you need to get in touch with your neurosurgeon immediately.

After your surgery, the doctor will give you a set of instructions detailing the symptoms of shunt infection and what steps you can take. In case your shunt does get infected, you should seek medical help immediately and follow the advice given by your doctor.

Some of the signs of a VP shunt infection are high fever, headaches, pain, and swelling near the catheter.

Sometimes, a VP shunt does not function well and may under or over-drain the CSF. The patient may have brain hemorrhage if the shunt drains CSF at a rate than at which it is produced. On the other hand, if CSF is not drained at the right pace, the symptoms of hydrocephalus return. Some of the signs that indicate that the shunt is not functioning well are:

  • Swelling near the catheter
  • Persistent headache
  • Irritability
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty in staying awake
  • Loss of balance or coordination

What are the costs of  VP Shunt surgery

Deciding to undergo surgery like VP shunt would mean that you need to have your finances sorted. The cost of VP shunt surgery will be influenced by several factors such as the country where you live, the experience and skill set of your surgeon, and the hospital. The cost also differs from one country to another.


VP shunt surgery could be a life-changing treatment for you. To ensure a successful outcome, receive treatment from well-qualified neurosurgeons at accredited hospitals.


Last modified on blank at May 28, 2024

Reviewed By :- Guneet Bhatia

Urvi Agrawal

Urvi is an avid reader who is passionate about writing. Having worked in hospital settings like AIIMS, She has experience working as a healthcare writer and has written about many healthcare and medical topics. Besides her role as a content specialist, she likes to spend her time cooking, dancing, and painting. She believes that positive thinking is crucial for being happy.

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