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Discharge Instructions for Pediatric Hydrocephalus Following Shunt Placement

Your child has been diagnosed with hydrocephalus, a condition in which extra fluid builds up in the brain. This condition is sometimes referred to as “water on the brain.” The most common treatment for hydrocephalus is insertion of a shunt. This tube drains fluid from the brain to another space in the body, where it can be safely absorbed. Here's what you need to know about home care.

Outline of boy showing ventricles in brain with tube running from ventricle down back of head and neck, through chest, and into abdomen. Home care

  • Give your child pain medicines as your healthcare provider directs.

  • Feed your child his or her regular diet.

  • Wash your child’s incision each day with mild soap. Rinse the incision with water and gently pat it dry.

  • Don’t allow your child to soak in water (in the bathtub or swimming pool) until the incision is completely healed.

  • Allow your child to resume normal activities gradually after returning home.

  • Be aware that if you child needs an MRI, the newer shunts are MRI compatible. Check with your healthcare provider to be sure.

Follow-up

Make a follow-up appointment.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if your child has any of the following:

  • High-pitched cry or increased irritability

  • Trouble with sucking, drinking, or eating

  • Fever

  • Stiff neck (refusing to bend or move the neck or head)

  • Trouble breathing

  • Seizures

  • Head injury

  • Headache or visual disturbance

  • Bleeding, drainage, or pus at the incision site

  • Vomiting or stomach pain

  • Confusion or more than usual sleepiness

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