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Nursing Care of Infants With a Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt

Joseph, Rachel A. PhD, CCRN; Killian, Michaela R. SN; Brady, Emily E. SN

Section Editor(s): Meeker, Tamara

doi: 10.1097/ANC.0000000000000439
Special Series: Surgical Issues

Background: Infants with congenital or posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus may require a ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt to divert the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, thus preventing increase in intracranial pressure. Knowledge on various aspects of caring for a child with a VP shunt will enable new and experienced nurses to better care for these infants and equip parents for ongoing care at home.

Purpose: To review the nurses' role in care of infants with hydrocephalus, care after VP shunt placement, prevention of complications, and parental preparation for home care.

Methods/Search Strategy: A literature review involving electronic databases, such as CINAHL and MEDLINE, Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews, and resources from the Web sites of the National Hydrocephalus Foundation and Hydrocephalus Association, was performed to gather evidence for current practice information.

Findings and Implications for Practice and Research: Vigilant care can help with early identification of potential complications. The younger the infant at VP shunt placement, the higher the occurrence of complications. All neonatal intensive care unit nurses must be equipped with knowledge and skills to care for infants with hydrocephalus and those who undergo VP shunt placement. Monitoring for early signs of increased intracranial pressure can facilitate timely diagnosis and prompt surgical intervention. Equipping families will be helpful in early identification and timely management of shunt failure. Research on infants with VP shunt placement is essential to develop appropriate guidelines and explore experiences of families to identify caregiver burden and improve parental preparation.

West Chester University of Pennsylvania, Exton (Dr Joseph and Mss Killian and Brady); and Christiana Care Health Systems, Newark, Delaware (Dr Joseph).

Correspondence: Rachel A. Joseph, PhD, CCRN, Department of Nursing, West Chester University of Pennsylvania, 930 E. Lincoln Hwy, Exton, PA (

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

© 2017 by The National Association of Neonatal Nurses