Shunting

Overview

Shunting is the most common treatment for hydrocephalus, a condition caused when the body makes more cerebrospinal fluid than it can absorb, causing the fluid to build up.

The brain and spinal cord form the central nervous system. Cerebrospinal fluid is an important fluid that is formed inside the brain in spaces called ventricles. The fluid completely surrounds the brain and spinal cord, providing nutrients and protection. Our bodies normally produce and absorb the same amount of fluid keeping our system in balance.

Common causes of hydrocephalus in adults include bleeding or infection in the brain, or brain tumors in certain locations that may block flow or reabsorption of the cerebrospinal fluid.

A shunt is a flexible tube that is surgically inserted in the operating room. A shunt redirects the flow of cerebrospinal fluid from the brain to another part of the body where the fluid can be absorbed, usually to the abdominal cavity.

The tubing carrying the fluid runs under the skin from the head to the abdomen, just under the stomach. There is a valve on the shunt that allows your doctor to adjust the flow of the fluid. Your shunt may require periodic adjustment to maintain normal flow.