Written By Mustafa Syed | Edited By: Mel Quist
Are you having sudden severe headaches accompanied by blurry vision? This could be due to increased brain pressure caused by a range of factors, including hydrocephalus, head injury, brain aneurysm, stroke, drug use, and brain infections such as meningitis and encephalitis.
If you have experienced any of these conditions, followed by intensifying symptoms, it is recommended that you visit one of our specialists at Insight Neurosurgery to assess the possibility of a condition called increased intracranial pressure (ICP). ICP is caused by growing pressure inside the skull.
The intensifying symptoms to look out for include persistent severe headaches, blurred vision, muscle weakness, fatigue, vomiting, and sleepiness. Notably, children have the same symptoms as an adult. However, an infant could have an abnormally shaped head.
Once an increase in brain pressure is confirmed, brain shunt placement is recommended to drain excess fluid and relieve pressure in the brain.
What is a Brain Shunt Placement?
Brain shunt placement involves inserting a long tube (catheter) under the skin, from head cavities through the neck and to the abdomen, where the excess fluid is drained. The tube’s point of entry could be behind the ear and top or back of the head.
Diagnosing Increased Brain Pressure
To diagnose increased brain pressure, your health provider will perform a detailed health and physical assessment. This assessment will include an account of injuries or pre-existing illnesses that could form a risk for increased brain pressure. Your doctor may use a needle to check the pressure around your spine. An MRI or CT scan will also be ordered to locate the specific nature of the swelling.
The brain shunt placement procedure takes an average of one and a half hours to complete. Before starting, the area of the procedure is shaved clean. General anesthesia is also used. Your doctor will then use surgical razors to make an incision at the selected point of entry, eventually inserting the long catheters.
Post Procedure Expectations
After the procedure, you will be transferred to a recovery ward, where caregivers monitor your progress, administer IV fluids, and prescribe antibiotics and pain relievers.
Typically, the amount of time it takes before discharge from the hospital is ten days. However, it varies among patients and is determined by draining the excessive fluids around the brain. The general principle is to admit the patient until their vitals resume normal.
Upon discharge, your doctor will give you instructions to ensure proper care of the shunt to avoid infection. In case the symptoms persist after the procedure, you should seek immediate medical attention.
How Effective is a Brain Shunt Placement?
Draining the brain results in immediately noticeable relief from symptoms of brain pressure. A research study observed that the application of the ultrasound-guided VC placement ensured effective outcome of brain shunt placement.
Notably, brain shunts could require a replacement after several years. It may be necessary to make arrangements to have a replacement.
Who Should Not Have a Brain Shunt Placement?
There are no specific guidelines on who is not an ideal candidate. However, upon getting a shunt, you are advised not to engage in activities such as martial arts that may compromise the state of the shunt.
For more information on brain shunt placement or symptoms you may be experiencing, contact Insight Neurosurgery at 810-732-8336 to schedule an appointment