A VP shunt (the abbreviation of ventriculoperitoneal shunt) is used by doctors to treat a medical condition called hydrocephalus, or “water on the brain.” Hydrocephalus is a condition in which the ventricles of a person’s brain have an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Water on the brain can result in an increased pressure inside a person’s skull and cause their head to progressively enlarge, as well as suffer from convulsions and other, various mental disabilities, and can be fatal.
To treat hydrocephalus, doctors drill a small hole into a person’s skull, which gives them access to the enlarged ventricles to drain the CSF. A catheter is carefully inserted into one of the enlarged ventricles, and with the assistance of a system of pumps, a pathway is created for the excess CSF to travel into the person’s abdominal cavity.
As with any surgery, VP shunt surgery has many possible dangers, including a risk of infection and/or bleeding, as well as a patient suffering an adverse reaction to general anesthesia, which could cause them to have difficulty breathing. However, VP shunt surgery has many additional possible complications, all of which can cause neurological damage and potentially be fatal. Possible complications from VP shunt surgery include: