Ventricular-Peritoneal Shunt (VP Shunt)

What is a VP Shunt and what does it do?

Person with VP Shunt in place, AP view Person with VP Shunt in place, lateral view

This is a device which drains the extra fluid in the brain into the peritoneal cavity where the fluid can be absorbed.

The Ventricular Catheter (see the diagram below to review the different parts of a shunt) may enter from various positions of the skull, most commonly from the right front top of the skull or from the right back side of the skull just above and behind the ear. This allows the catheter to pass through a relatively silent portion of the brain which minimizes the risk of complications. The ventricular catheter attaches to a one way valve which is placed under the skin on the outside of the skull. From the valve, the distal shunt tubing is tunneled underneath the skin down to the abdomen. It is placed into the peritoneal cavity which is a membranous fluid filled sac which encloses many of the abdominal organs such as the liver, spleen, intestines. The fluid is released into this cavity and absorbed.

Basic Parts of a Shunt

Illustration Showing Different Parts of a Shunt

There are many different kinds of shunts. All have three basic parts: a Ventricular Catheter, a Shunt Valve and a Distal Catheter. See What is a Shunt? to understand how the different parts of a shunt function.