The cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) bathes the brain and spinal cord. Most of the CSF is in the ventricles of the brain, which are large cavities within the brain which produce and reabsorb the CSF. In hydrocephalus, the ventricles of the brain become enlarged with cerebrospinal fluid. This condition, which causes the brain to become compressed against the skull, can be caused by brain tumors or bleeding in the brain.
Shunting, also called ventriculoperitoneal shunting, is necessary to drain the excess fluid and relieve the pressure in the brain. Ventriculoperitoneal shunting is often crucial for preventing serious brain damage. Shunts, like any other medical device, can develop problems. VP shunts can become blocked, torn, or infected. In these cases, shunts need to be revised. Otherwise, shunts can be left in place for many years if they are functioning well.