Shunts Specialist

Shunts reroute excess cerebrospinal fluid in your brain or spine to relieve pressure and ease neurological problems caused by hydrocephalus. At Texas Neuro Spine, experienced board-certified neurosurgeons Sebastian Villarreal, MD, and George Galvan, MD, skillfully use cutting-edge procedures to implant shunts and end symptoms. There are three office locations in San Antonio and one in Kerrville, Texas, so reach out to your nearest office by phone or book an appointment online.

Shunts Q & A

What are shunts?

A ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt is a thin tube that your surgeon places in your brain to improve cerebrospinal fluid drainage and relieve pressure.

Texas Neuro Spine may recommend a shunt procedure if you have hydrocephalus, a condition in which excess fluid buildup in your brain ventricles causes serious symptoms like neurological issues and brain damage.

Shunts are a way to safely divert extra cerebrospinal fluid to another part of your body, where you can harmlessly absorb it.

What are the symptoms of hydrocephalus?

Hydrocephalus symptoms often include:

  • Significantly swollen head (large head size)
  • Cognitive difficulties, including memory loss in adults and delays in children
  • Seizures
  • Poor coordination
  • Diminished vision
  • Chronic tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Urinary or fecal incontinence
  • Personality changes
  • Behavior changes
  • Leg weakness
  • Frequent falls

These symptoms are very serious, but they’re often very treatable if you seek help quickly. Untreated hydrocephalus can cause permanent brain damage.

What causes hydrocephalus?

You can develop hydrocephalus for many reasons, but blockages caused by cysts, tumors, or inflammation are the most common causes. Overproduction of cerebrospinal fluid or incomplete fluid absorption are also a possible causes.

Some babies have hydrocephalus at birth, but it can start at any age. The risk of hydrocephalus is higher after age 60. Strokes, head injuries, and infections affecting your central nervous system can all increase your risk of hydrocephalus.

How does shunt surgery work?

Your Texas Neuro Spine surgeon performs shunt surgery while you’re under anesthesia. Your surgeon creates small incisions in your skull and abdomen. They connect very thin long tubes that route cerebrospinal fluid from your brain down to your abdomen.

After placing the shunts, your surgeon closes the small incisions, and the shunt starts working to shuttle the extra cerebrospinal fluid away and prevent pressure buildup.

After surgery, the shunt can potentially relieve hydrocephalus symptoms right away, but it may take up to a few months to see optimal results.

With some shunts, your surgeon adjusts the pressure setting using a magnetic device. If you have a programmable shunt, you may need to take precautions around magnets and when undergoing procedures like MRI in the future. Your surgeon lets you know what to expect.

Shunts can be the best way to help you keep normal and healthy brain function when suffering from hydrocephalus. When you need this advanced type of brain surgery, it’s important to trust the expert neurosurgeons at Texas Neuro Spine. Call the office or book an appointment online.


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