VP Shunt (Child)

Your child has been given a VP (ventriculoperitoneal) shunt. This is used to treat extra fluid made within the brain (hydrocephalus). This extra fluid causes pressure on the brain. In a growing child, the extra pressure inside the skull will cause the head to enlarge. It will also cause nervous system problems. The shunt lets the extra fluid overflow through the shunt tubing into the abdominal cavity (or another site) where the body can absorb it.

A valve is attached to the tubing that lets fluid flow in only one direction—away from the brain. You can feel the valve below the scalp, usually behind the ear. There are different types of valves. The healthcare provider can explain if your child's valve is working correctly.

Front view of baby showing VP shunt in brain.

Home care

If there was concern today about the function of the shunt, check the valve daily for the next 3 days and report any concerns to your child's healthcare provider. Once you know it is working well, you don't need to check the valve again unless told to do so by your provider.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as advised.

When to seek medical advice

Call your child's healthcare provider if any of the following occur:

  • Fever of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your child's healthcare provider

  • Unusual drowsiness or confusion

  • Headache that doesn't go away

  • Visual changes

  • Repeated vomiting

  • Belly pain that does not go away

  • Poor appetite that does not get better

  • Sudden changes in behavior

  • Redness, swelling, bleeding, or discharge from the area where the shunt valve was placed

  • Seizure

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