What Is Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt (VP Shunt) Malfunction?

Q:
What is ventriculoperitoneal shunt malfunction?

A:
A ventriculoperitoneal shunt, also known as VP shunt, is a device surgically implanted on a brain ventricle as a highly effective treatment option for hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus is a condition that cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) accumulates in the brain. It can cause increased pressure inside the skull. The VP shunt can divert the excess cerebrospinal fluid away from the ventricles and reduces the excess pressure on surrounding tissue.

Ventriculoperitoneal shunt malfunction (VP shunt malfunction) usually occurs after VP shunts. According to the data, it occurs in up to 40% of cases at 1 year and 70% of cases at 10 years. Delayed diagnosis and treatment can lead to cranial nerve palsies, seizures, decreased level of consciousness, and coma.

Causes

Mechanical failures may occur due to:

  • obstruction at the ventricular catheter
    Obstruction of the proximal shunt catheter is the most common cause of shunt malfunction in the first 2 years, often shortly after placement from postoperative debris and blood products.
  • fracture of the tubing
  • migration of the shunt in part or whole and due to over drainage
  • shunt kinking

Other causes may include:

  • choroid plexus ingrowth at the proximal tip
  • pseudocyst formation at the distal tip
  • infection (is seen more often in newborns and usually occurs within the 6 months after shunt placement.)

Symptoms

According to the Hydrocephalus Association, symptoms of VP shunt malfunction mainly including:

  • fever
  • irritability
  • headaches
  • a change in personality and redness
  • inflammation along the shunt’s path
  • vomiting
  • fatigue
  • double vision
  • vision loss or blurry vision

Some symptoms are specific to particular age groups.

Infants

  • baby’s head begin to swell or get large
  • become fussy, refuse to eat
  • have fits of high-pitched crying

Children

  • become grouchy, whiny or impatient
  • may have a soft spot on the child’s head that begins to swell.
  • difficult to wake up

Adults

  • difficult to wake up
  • may have the same symptoms before the surgeon placed the shunt

Older people

  • urinary incontinence
  • difficult to walk
  • mental problems

If you have symptoms, please consult your doctors for more details.

Keywords: ventriculoperitoneal shunt malfunction; VP shunt malfunction; ventriculoperitoneal shunt; VP shunt; hydrocephalus; cerebrospinal fluid; CSF.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.