The placement of a ventricular catheter, or shunt tube, is a minimally invasive procedure in which a tube made of flexible plastic or silicone is placed in one of the brain’s ventricles. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is the clear liquid surrounding the brain and the spinal column. An excess of CSF in the brain ventricles is brought on by infection or disease. A ventricular shunt is put into place to relieve pressure on the brain caused by hydrocephalus via drainage of excess fluid.

    The ventricle can swell to a large size and place severe pressure on adjacent brain structures. Causes for hydrocephalus may include a brain tumor, infection of or bleeding into the cerebrospinal fluid, or brain malformations.


    A decrease in ventricular size is typical within three or four days after shunt placement. Ventricle shrinkage will occur even in chronic cases of hydrocephalus. Empirical signs of improvement become present within a few weeks. Circumstances surrounding the cause, type and severity of hydrocephalus can affect the outcome of surgery.


    The shunt drains fluid from the brain to the jugular vein in the neck, or a cavity in the abdomen. The brain and the drainage site must be accessed surgically. Catheter tubing ensures a one-directional flow of fluid to the drainage site. Valves in the tubing also self-regulate the amount of fluid which is drained.

    A reservoir system attached to the tubing near the scalp can be checked to analyze CSF for bacteria, cancer cells, blood or protein levels. The reservoir may also be used as the site for the injection of antibiotics to treat infection.


    Brain disorder treatment is a specialty for the board-certified physicians of IGEA Brain, Spine & Orthopedics P.A. The use of revolutionary and minimally invasive instrumentation and brain surgery procedures to treat hydrocephalus as well as other complex brain disorders elevates the neurosurgeons at IGEA above the rest. IGEA takes pride in being pioneers in the practice of innovative technology to ensure superior neurosurgical care for patients. To learn more about catheters or shunts for CSF drainage, call the neurosurgeons of New Jersey and New York City at 866-467-1770.