What Is a Brain Shunt?


Quick Answer

A brain shunt is a thin piece of tubing that is placed in the fluid-filled ventricle of the brain. The tubing is then passed beneath the skin and into a different body area, such as the abdomen. The cerebral shunt relieves pressure on the brain by exhausting excessive fluid from the brain through the ventricles into another body region for faster absorption, according to Beaumont Health System.

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Full Answer

Brain shunts are used to treat hydrocephalus, a condition characterized by excessive pressure on the brain due to extra fluids, explains Beaumont Health System.There are different types of cerebral shunts: ventriculo-peritoneal, which drains fluids from the brain ventricle into the abdominal cavity; ventriculo-pleural, which drains extra fluids from the brain ventricle into the pleural cavity outside the lung; programmable, which has special, adjustable valves; fixed pressure, whose valves drain excess fluids at a fixed rate; and ventriculo-arterial, which empties fluids from the ventricle in the brain into the heart’s left atrium space.

The type of shunt catheter used depends on specific diagnoses and symptoms.

According to Beaumont Neuroscience, recovery time after cerebral shunt surgery varies from patient to patient and depends on the reason for and the type of the shunt. Some patients can go home after surgery, while others are hospitalized, depending on post-surgery conditions.

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