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Hydrocephalus (CFS)

When a patient has been diagnosed with hydrocephalus - excess cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain - a procedure called ventriculoperitoneal shunting can provide some relief. While everyone has this fluid in their brain, it becomes a problem when the flow is blocked and produces pressure in the head. A shunt is inserted into the region to divert the fluid into the peritoneal cavity in the abdomen and reduce the pressure.

Adult patients with a buildup of CSF may have:

  • Problems walking or a change in their gait
  • Mild to moderate dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Reduced bladder control

Learn what to expect from surgery

An area of the head is shaved and the surgeon makes a U-shaped cut behind the ear. Another tiny cut is made in the abdomen. A hole is made in the skull with a medical drill. Using imaging guidance, the surgeon inserts a catheter, which is placed into a ventricle in the brain. The surgeon inserts another catheter at the incision site behind the ear and guides it into the abdomen. A pump is put in place under the skin behind the ear, and the two catheters are connected by a valve, which will allow for the excess flue to drain from the brain to the belly to relieve pressure. After the surgery, the shunt system is completely under the skin, with nothing exposed to the outside.

While this surgery is often performed on children who are born with his condition, hydrocephalus can form in adults due to medical complications from a subarachnoid hemorrhage, traumatic head injury, infection, tumor, stroke, or degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's disease.

Following surgery, adults and children will be hospitalized for two to four days to ensure that the shunt is diverting the CSF. Recovery will depend on the disease or medical condition of the patient. In many cases, a full recovery is not possible, but patients will have an improved quality of life.