During shunt surgery, a thin tube called a shunt is implanted in the brain. The excess cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain flows through the shunt to another part of the body, usually the tummy. From here, it’s absorbed into your bloodstream. Inside the shunt there’s a valve that controls the flow of CSF and ensures it doesn’t drain too quickly. You can feel the valve as a lump under the skin of your scalp.
Shunt surgery is carried out by a neurosurgeon, a specialist in brain and nervous system surgery. The procedure is carried out under general anaesthetic and usually takes one to two hours. You may need to stay in hospital for a few days after the operation to recover. If you have stitches, they may dissolve or need to be removed. Some surgeons use skin staples to close the wound, which will need to be removed after a few days.
After the shunt has been installed, further treatment for hydrocephalus may be needed if it becomes blocked or infected. Shunt repair surgery will then be necessary.
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