VP Shunt In South Africa

Ventriculoperitoneal Shunts, abbreviated as VP shunts are one of the most advanced treatments available for candidates suffering from hydrocephalus. The CSF or the cerebrospinal fluid, normally flowing through the brain ventricles may get leaked causing unwanted accumulation in the cavities, thereby causing additional pressure, a condition called hydrocephalus. The condition is mostly diagnosed with infants, children, and teenagers. VP shunt surgery is primarily performed to relieve such additional pressure. Approximately 160,000 VP shunts are performed every year worldwide and each VP shunt surgery cost varies from $30,000 to $50,000.

What is VP Shunt Surgery?

The accumulation of CSF causes excessive pressure buildup and may cause irrecoverable brain damage. The VP shunts are thereby implanted in order to re-direct the path of CSF so that normal circulation is restored and any further damage is prevented. The shunts are made up of silicone which is flexible enough to not cause any additional disturbance. It comprises of two slim catheters for draining the CSF and a valve for regulating the activities. The recovery period required for patients undergoing VP shunt surgery is approximately 3-4 days.

Ideal Candidate for VP Shunt Surgery

VP Shunt surgery is performed to relieve symptoms of hydrocephalus and are unresponsive to traditional or conservative treatments. Candidates who require VP shunt surgery are mostly the individuals who show signs of progressive hydrocephalus. Thus, individuals who are diagnosed with symptoms of:

  • Excessive fluid buildup in the cavities
  • Reduced absorption of the cerebrospinal fluid by the blood vessels
  • Cysts or blockages resulting from hydrocephalus
  • Persistent inflammation
  • Recurrent seizures

Factors affecting the cost of VP Shunt Surgery

VP shunt surgery cost depends on a number of factors. Besides, depending on the country where the procedure is performed, the other determining factors are:

  • Type of shunt used for the surgery
  • Quality and durability of the shunt
  • The complexity of hydrocephalus diagnosed
  • Healthcare facilities required
  • Follow up treatments necessary 
  • Other underlying issues affecting the same.
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About the VP Shunt

  • Ventriculoperitoneal shunt is commonly known as VP shunt. It is a medical device that relieves pressure on the brain caused by excess cerebro-spinal fluid (CSF) accumulation. VP shunt is designed to primarily treat a medical condition called hydrocephalus, which occurs when excess CSF collects in the ventricles of the brain.
  • The role of fluid on the brain is to protect it from injury inside the skull. CSF acts as a delivery system for nutrients that the brain needs and takes away waste products. Fluid on the brain is reabsorbed into the blood.
  • Hydrocephalus occurs when the normal flow of CSF is disrupted or the reabsorbtion of CSF in the blood is reduced. This condition can, thus, create an adverse pressure on the tissues of the brain and harm it. A brain shunt surgery can help rectify this condition by diverting the CSF away from the brain, which restores normal flow and absorption of CSF. VP shunt is surgically placed inside one of the ventricles of the brain.

How is VP Shunt performed?

  • The management of hydrocephalus has always been a challenge for neurologists, neurosurgeons, engineers and medical device developers because the nature of CSF is unique to each patient. However, the development of VP shunt has made the treatment of hydrocephalus a bit easier. It has, in fact, become the most successful and primary therapy for hydrocephalus treatment.
  • A VP shunt looks like a tube and the shunt pathway contains some valves that act as on/off switches. The valve open when the pressure difference across the valve exceeds the valve opening pressure. These valves are usually set to a fixed pressure.
  • Some accessory devices may be added to the shunt to modify valve functions. Role of accessory devices is to counter gravitational forces and to minimize over drainage of CSF when a patient is in standing position. Further, a bubble like reservoir can provide an external approach to the brain shunt surgery for making any changes in the measurement of pressure.

Recovery from VP Shunt

Brain Shunt Surgery Recovery Time

  • Just after the VP shunt surgery, the patient is kept under close observation for an hour or so and then is transferred to his or her room. Usually, it takes 4 to 7 days for patients to leave the hospital, depending on their clinical progress.
  • During the hospital stay of the patient with shunt in head, the hospital staff will monitor the heart rate and blood pressure frequently and the specialist will suggest some preventive antibiotics. The result of this monitoring procedure will help determine recovery time after VP shunt. The specialist will make sure that the shunt in head is working properly and will remove the stitches or staples before the patient is discharged from hospital.
  • The patient can walk and move after the discharge from the hospital, but it may take 2 to 3 weeks to resume daily activities. Patient may feel tenderness in the neck or belly and probably feel tired. In some cases, the patient may have headache for a few weeks after the surgery, but should not experience much pain. Typically, every individual has different recovery time, depending on the age and medical needs.

Precautions After VP Shunt Surgery

The patient may need to lie flat for 24 hours after the shunt in head is placed. Patients are strictly recommended to follow the instructions of the doctor on how to take care of the shunt at home. Patients may be asked to take medicine after VP shunt surgery to prevent infection.Here are some of the precaution that you must take after the brain shunt surgery:

  • Rest and get enough sleep, it will help you recover.
  • Do not touch the valve on your head.
  • Avoid physically involving games and activities for at least 6 weeks.
  • Do not swim or take a shower until your stitches or staples are removed.
  • Take low-fat foods such as plain rice, boiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
  • Do not take any new medications unless advised by the doctor.
  • Make sure to contact the doctor before continuing any blood thinner medicines such as clopidogrel, warfarin or aspirin.
  • Take pain medicines and antibiotics exactly as directed. Do not stop them just because you feel better.

VP Shunt Procedure Complications

The VP shunt procedure is a safe and most common procedure for the treatment of hydrocephalus. But it also involves some complication and risks. Some patients may be advised a VP shunt revision in case of complication or if the device fails to work. According to some studies, about 50 percent of VP shunting in the pediatric population fails within two years of placement and VP shunt revision is often required.However, VP shunt complication rate in adults is less. The most common VP shunt complications in adults are malfunction and infection.

  • VP shunt malfunction: Partial or complete blockage of the shunt that affects the function of VP shunt intermittently or fully is called malfunction. In VP shunt malfunction, CSF accumulates and resumes the symptoms of hydrocephalus.

VP shunt malfunction is a complication which can occur in adults and any other age group. The blockage can take place from tissue, blood cells or by bacteria. Both the ventricular catheter and the distal part of the catheter can be blocked by tissue from the ventricles or choroid plexus.

  • VP shunt infections: Infection in VP shunts is usually caused by a person’s own bacterial flora. The most common infection in VP shunt is because of a bacteria called Staphylococcus epidermidis. It is found on the surface of skin, sweat glands and in hair follicles deep within the skin.

This type of VT shunt infection is most commonly seen in one to three months after the surgery. Abdominal infection after VP shunt is also common. A person with VT shunt may also develop a generalized infection, which can become serious quickly.


Pros:

  • Patients return to usual routine in some days
  • No pain


Cons

  • Shunt may fail after a few years
  • Shunt replacement or removal has its own side effects

Patient Stories

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the health care infrastructure of South Africa / Why should opt for South Africa as a destination for your medical treatment?
Like most countries, hospitals in South Africa are based upon public and private healthcare systems. There are three main levels of healthcare based upon the payment method of the patient.
  • The full paying patients are those who usually prefer to be treated by a doctor working in the private sector. They can also be funded by an external source. Many non-South African citizens also prefer this treatment service.
  • Fully subsidized patients are those who have been referred from a Primary Healthcare Service Hospital.
  • Partially subsidized patients are patients whose costs are subsidized based on the amount of their income.
The public healthcare system has three main centers for health under its wing:
  • Clinics - These are run by trained professionals and nurses. They can serve as the first point of contact for a patient.
  • Community Healthcare Centre - This is a bigger setup, complete with full-fledged services and doctors and nurses.
  • Hospital - A patient usually gets here after a referral from a clinic or community health center. One can also go in for emergencies. A hospital provides various services like performing surgery and treating chronic illnesses.
Hospitals in South Africa are gearing up to tackle major illnesses and to provide better treatment options. The South African government is also working to introduce policies and towards accommodating more patients from all across the world. It is a great country to find affordable treatment options.
What are the conditions of the hospitals in South Africa? Are they JCI certified? What is the quality of the support staff in the hospitals
The Joint Commission International (JCI) accredits and certifies most health care organizations and programs all around the world. Joint Commission International Accreditation and Certification is recognized as the global leader for health care quality of care and patient safety.
Are the doctors/surgeons in South Africa of the best quality?
Doctors associated with Medigence are of the best quality. We hope to give our patients a pleasant experience and the best doctors we can find. Since South Africa has a lot of requirements in the field of healthcare, the country attracts doctors from all over the world to contribute their services. This can help to ensure that even you receive the best quality of doctors.
What is the process for obtaining a medical visa in South Africa?
One can apply for a visa to South Africa for a period of 90 days. The High Commission of India can then help one decide for how long a visa can be extended. This usually differs from person to person. The Medical Visa allows a person to stay for a maximum of six months with a valid visa. After this, one can go to the FRO office ( Foreigner’s Registration Office ) or FRRO (Foreigner's Regional Registration Office) and request for an extension. Do note that the validity of a visa begins on the day it is issued by the High Commission of India and not on the date of departure. Applications for visas will not be accepted more than 30 days prior to departure.
What support services does MediGence provide in the United Arab Emirates?
MediGence enables you to plan and manage your medical decisions better. These are some of our services offered:
  • Expert Opinion
    We help you seek an Expert Opinion on your diagnosis and treatment from an experienced team of doctors at MediGence and specialists from a reputable hospital.
  • Hospital Recommendation
    We recommend a hospital or a healthcare institution that is best suited for you, based on your ailment and its criticality.
  • 360-degree Hospital Review
    We give you a transparent and holistic view of the hospital and its infrastructure, accreditation, facilities, and expertise to give you confidence.
  • Doctor Validation and Communication
    We share a comprehensive profile of the treating doctor and also arrange a call to clear queries regarding treatment if needed.
  • Options to Choose From
    Based on your choice of destination and other preferences, we provide you multiple options with respect to hospitals and doctors to choose from.
  • 24X7 Patient Care Support
    A dedicated patient case manager stays in constant touch with you to help you at every step of the decision-making process and resolve queries that you may have.
  • Transparent Treatment Cost and Other Expenses
    We give a clear and accurate indication of the total cost of treatment including treatment, stay, meals, and other expenses.
  • Visa Assistance
    We provide and help prepare documentation for visa approval and coordinate with the embassy to expedite the visa process.
  • Accommodation Arrangements
    We propose to you a choice of accommodation based on your preference such as long stay, short stay, or luxury properties.
Which are the best cities in South Africa for medical treatment?
While many cities are striving to create some of the best hospitals in South Africa, Durban, Lenasia, and Cape Town already have some very good hospitals for treatment in South Africa. Located in Durban, Ethekwini Hospital and Heart Centre is a reasonable and affordable hospital in South Africa. Life Kingsbury Hospital in Capetown provides a holistic healing environment for patients. One can also opt for the Ahmed Kathrada Private Hospital in Lenasia. This hospital has been running for nearly 30 years now and various medical facilities can be availed from here.

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