Reasons for Procedure
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- Shunt failure
- Brain swelling
- Blood clot or bleeding in the brain
- Infection in the shunt or brain
- Damage to brain tissue
- Reaction to the anesthesia
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
- Do a neurological exam—This is to find out how your child’s nerves work. It involves evaluating mental status, as well as motor and sensory abilities.
- Order MRI or CT scans of the brain—Images of your child’s body will help the doctor plan the surgery.
- Answer any question that you have
- Talk to your doctor about your child's medications. Your child may be asked to stop taking some medications up to 2 weeks before the procedure.
- Instruct your child to not eat or drink before the surgery—Your child’s doctor will give you instructions about fasting based on your child’s age. Fasting may range from 6-12 hours before surgery.
Description of the Procedure
Immediately After Procedure
How Long Will It Take?
How Much Will It Hurt?
Average Hospital Stay
- Your child may need to lay flat for up to 24 hours after surgery.
- Your child’s heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, and brain status will be monitored closely.
- Your child will receive nutrition through an IV until he or she is ready to eat and drink.
- The shunt will be checked to make sure it is working.
- Antibiotics may be given. Pain medication will be given as needed.
- Washing their hands
- Wearing gloves or masks
- Keeping your child's incisions covered
- Washing both you and your child's hands often, and reminding visitors and healthcare providers to do the same
- Reminding your child's healthcare providers to wear gloves or masks
- Not allowing others to touch your child's incision
- Go to physical therapy appointments as directed.
- Keep track of your child's growth. Longer shunts may be needed as your child develops.
- Be sure to follow your child's doctor's instructions.
Call Your Child’s Doctor
- Symptoms that went away return
- Stiff neck
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, a lot of bleeding, or any discharge from the incision site
- Vomiting—may be a sign of the shunt not working
- Pain that is not controlled with the medications your child has been given
- Vision problems
- Being very sleepy
- Developmental delays
- Not eating or drinking enough
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Blue or gray skin color
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Not wanting to be held
Hydrocephalus Association http://www.hydroassoc.org
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke http://www.ninds.nih.gov
Canadian Paediatric Society http://www.cps.ca
Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Canada http://www.sbhac.ca
About normal pressure hydrocephalus. National Hydrocephalus Association website. Available at: http://www.hydroassoc.org/docs/AboutNormalPressureHydrocephalus-A%5FBook%5Ffor%5FAdults%5Fand%5FTheir%5FFamilies.pdf. Accessed December 9, 2014.
NINDS Hydrocephalus information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/hydrocephalus/hydrocephalus.htm. Updated April 16, 2014. Accessed December 9, 2014.
- Reviewer: Kari Kassir, MD
- Review Date: 12/2014 -
- Update Date: 12/20/2014 -