What Is A Shunt And What Does It Do?

Parts Of A Shunt

Shunt Parts

A cerebral shunt takes cerebral spinal fluid from the brain and diverts it to another part of the body where it is absorbed. There are many different kinds of shunts. All have three basic parts: a Ventricular Catheter, a Shunt Valve and a Distal Catheter.

The VENTRICULAR CATHETER is a flexible catheter with holes in it which is placed directly into the fluid part of the brain. It allows fluid to drain into the holes through the catheter into the valve.

The SHUNT VALVE is a one way valve which has different flow rates. This controls the amount of fluid allowed to drain. Some valves can be programmed to one of multiple settings to adjust the flow. The "bubble" portion or "reservoir" may be part of the valve as in this illustration or it may be a separate attachment next to the valve. This reservoir can be accessed with a tiny needle to obtain cerebral spinal fluid samples, give medications and to help assess shunt function.

The DISTAL SHUNT TUBING carries the fluid from the valve to other parts of the body where the fluid is released and absorbed. These areas where the distal tubing is placed may be the abdomen (peritoneal cavity), the pleural (chest) cavity, or the heart.

Common drainage locations for the end of the shunt include the abdominal cavity, the pleural cavity and the heart.

Shunt With Tubing Ending in the Abdominal Cavity Image of Lungs Image of Heart