Type of Surgery
Last updated: 02/17/2009
The ventricular shunt tube is placed to drain fluid from the ventricular system in the brain to the cavity of the abdomen or to the large vein in the neck (jugular vein). Therefore, surgical procedures must be done both in the brain and at the drainage...
site. The tubing contains valves to ensure that fluid can only flow out of the brain and not back into it. The valve can be set at a desired pressure to allow CSF to escape whenever the pressure level is exceeded.
A small reservoir may be attached to the tubing and placed under the scalp. This reservoir allows samples of CSF to be removed with a syringe to check the pressure. Fluid from the reservoir can also be examined for bacteria, cancer cells, blood, or protein, depending on the cause of hydrocephalus. The reservoir may also be used to inject antibiotics for CSF infection or chemotherapy medication for meningeal tumors.
Ventricular shunt is a surgical procedure in which a tube is placed in one of the fluid-filled chambers inside the brain (ventricles). The fluid around the brain and the spinal column is called the cerebrospinal fluid. When infection or disease causes an excess of this cerebrospinal fluid in the ventricles, the shunt is placed to drain it and thereby relieve excess pressure.
Ventricular shunt relieves hydrocephalus, a condition in which the ventricles are enlarged. In hydrocephalus, pressure from the cerebrospinal fluid usually increases. It may be caused by tumor of the brain or of the membranes covering the brain (meninges), infection of or bleeding into the cerebrospinal fluid, or inborn malformations of the brain. Symptoms of hydrocephalus may include headache, personality disturbances and loss of intellectual abilities (dementia), problems in walking, irritability, vomiting, abnormal eye movements, or a low level of consciousness.
Normal pressure hydrocephalus is associated with progressive dementia, problems in walking, and loss of bladder control (urinary incontinence). Even though the cerebrospinal fluid is not thought to be under increased pressure in this condition, it may also be treated by ventricular shunting.
More than 60 percent of procedures neurosurgeons perform are spine-related, according to the National Neurosurgical Procedural Statistics 2006 Survey from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS).
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