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Shunt Malfunction

    • Hydrocephalus Example Image

When a child with hydrocephalus joins a school, the school will need to ascertain what action should be taken in the event that the child has a problem that could be related to his/her hydrocephalus and the parents are unavailable.

The preferences of neurosurgeons vary with each hospital unit – some like the child to be transported direct to the neurosurgical unit, others prefer the child to be assessed at a local A&E department first.

Signs of acute shunt malfunction or blockage may include; vomiting or nausea, abdominal pain, photophobia (sensitivity to light) + other visual disturbances, drowsiness, seizures (fits), headache and dizziness.

If a child with a shunt (or who has had hydrocephalus treated by 3rd ventriculostomy) displays all or some of the above THINK SHUNT


1) Inform parents 2) If parents are unavailable ask child for his/her shunt alert card & look for name of neurosurgeon. Phone neurosurgical unit & speak to Ward Sister or Neurosurgical Registrar. Please do NOT leave message with ward clerk or junior 3) It may be necessary to arrange transport to a neurosurgical unit. In some areas, the policy is for the child to be assessed at a local hospital. IF A CHILD DEVELOPS SYMPTOMS OF A SHUNT BLOCKAGE (OR MALFUNCTION OF 3RD VENTRICULOSTOMY) YOU NEED TO CONTACT THEIR SPECIALIST NEUROSURGICAL UNIT WITHIN 4 HOURS OF ACUTE SYMPTOMS DEVELOPING, FOR ADVICE Shunt malfunction may present as a chronic condition (ie over some time - weeks or even months) If a child with hydrocephalus presents with: fatigue general malaise visuo-perceptual problems being just ‘not right’ THE PARENTS NEED TO BE INFORMED Do not assume that someone else will tell them or that they will necessarily notice “vague” symptoms It is especially important that children with hydrocephalus have access to clear fluids particularly if the weather is hot, the classroom is overheated, or after exercise. Clear fluids can include water or squash, but not ‘coke’ or any drink containing caffeine behaviour changes decline in academic


Shine welcomes fundraiser to boost funds for disability in the Southwest

The charity Shine has welcomed Rachel Coombs as its new Community and SME Fundraiser,…

Did You Know?

Some babies with spina bifida are now operated on before they are born, via keyhole surgery.

Hydrocephalus can be congenital or acquired.

NPH (Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus) is an excessive build-up of fluid in the head.

Hydrocephalus is a build up of excess fluid in the brain.

Some 11 - 35% of people with Intracranial Hypertension recover spontaneously!

Most babies with spina bifida undergo surgery within 48 hours of birth.

“Every effort should be made to ensure that all children are immunized, no opportunity to immunize should be missed.”

If you have spina bifida +/or hydrocephalus you should receive the same vaccinations as any others, when going abroad.

Hydrocephalus comes from the Greek "hydro" meaning water and "cephalie", meaning brain.

Some forms of hydrocephalus require no specific treatment.

Medical advice should always be sought if shunt infection is suspected!

Shunt: a device that diverts accumulated cerebro-spinal fluid around the obstructed pathways back to the bloodstream.

Possible signs of chronic shunt blockage include: 
fatigue, general malaise or behavioural changes.

A shunt alert card should be carried at all times by people with hydrocephalus treated by a shunt.

Possible signs of acute shunt blockage may include: visual disturbances, drowsiness and seizures.

Symptoms of Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus are similar to Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease or simply increasing age.

NPH (Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus) occurs most often in people aged over 60.

Benign Intracranial Hypertension aka Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension affects about one or two in every 100,000 people!

Symptoms associated with raised intracranial pressure; headache, visual disturbances, photophobia, vomiting, problems with balance...

Diagnosis of Intracranial Hypertension is by scan + measurement of the CSF pressure.

Babies born prematurely are at increased risk of developing hydrocephalus.

Shine can raise money by recycling your used inkjet cartridges, toners or CDs and DVDs.

Para-athletes with spina bifida and hydrocephalus compete in sports ranging from cycling to dressage.

Hydrocephalus may affect memory, concentration and behaviour.

The usual treatment for hydrocephalus is to insert a shunt into the brain.

CSF stands for cerebro-spinal fluid.

Benny Bear is a teddy with hydrocephalus who helps children understand the condition.

Shine is always looking for Marathon Runners to help with fundraising.

Spina bifida occulta is a hidden form of spina bifida.


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