Your child has hydrocephalus and needed a shunt placed to drain excess fluid and relieve pressure in the brain. This buildup of brain and spinal cord fluid (cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF) and pressure causes the brain tissue to press (become compressed) against the skull. Too much pressure or pressure that is present too long can damage the brain tissue.
Your child had an incision behind their ear and a small hole drilled through the skull. A small incision or cut was also made in the belly. A valve was placed underneath the skin behind the ear. One catheter was placed into the brain to bring the fluid to the valve. Another catheter was connected to the valve and threaded underneath the skin down into your child's belly.
Any stitches or staples that you can see will be taken out in about 7 to 14 days.
All parts of the shunt are underneath the skin. At first, the area at the top of the shunt may be raised up underneath the skin. As the swelling goes away and your child's hair grows back, there will be a small raised area about the size of a quarter that is usually not noticeable.
DO NOT shower or shampoo your child's head until the stitches and staples have been taken out. Give your child a sponge bath instead. The wound should not soak in water until the skin is completely healed.
DO NOT push on the part of the shunt that you can feel or see underneath your child’s skin behind the ear.
Your child should be able to eat normal foods after going home, unless the health care provider tells you otherwise.
Your child should be able to do most activities:
Your child may have some pain. Children under 4 years old may take acetaminophen (Tylenol). Children age 4 and older may be prescribed stronger pain medicines, if needed. Follow your provider's instructions or instructions on the medicine container, about how much medicine to give your child.
The major problems to watch for are an infected shunt and a blocked shunt.
Call your child’s doctor if your child has:
Shunt - ventriculoperitoneal - discharge; VP shunt - discharge; Shunt revision - discharge
Kinsman SL, Johnston MV. Congenital anomalies of the central nervous system. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW III, et al., eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 585.
Rosenberg GA. Brain edema and disorders of cerebrospinal fluid circulation. In: Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 59.
Updated by: Joseph V. Campellone, MD, Department of Neurology, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 1997-2015, A.D.A.M., Inc. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized in writing by ADAM Health Solutions.