Why is this surgery done?

You may need this procedure if you have a problem with the fluid in or around your brain. This fluid protects your brain and is called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Surgery or a bedside procedure may be needed if you have more cerebrospinal fluid than your brain needs or it is not being absorbed correctly. The medical term for this is hydrocephalus. The most stressful time this procedure needs to be done is after someone has had a traumatic brain injury. There are times after a trauma to your brain that draining the cerebrospinal fluid can relieve pressure in your brain to help save your life.

How is the surgery done?

The procedure or surgery can be performed in the operating room, at bedside in the ICU or in the emergency room. Patients are usually very sick when this procedure needs to occur, and they typically already have a breathing tube in place.

A small area of hair will be shaved from your head. This is where the surgeon will create a hole and insert a small tube or catheter into the brain. Occasionally, this can improve someone in a deep coma to an improved state of consciousness.

The ventriculostomy allows the neurosurgeon and other doctors and nurses to monitor the pressure in your brain. There are other types of devices that can monitor pressure in your brain that are inserted in a similar manner. You should ask your doctor about your specific surgery.

What are my risks? What are common complications?

With any procedure/surgery, there are risks. You should talk to your doctor about them. Some common complications include infection, injury to the brain and blockage of the tubing. These cause the shunt to not work properly and could require further surgery to repair.

What do I need to know before surgery?

A ventriculostomy is a common procedure/surgery in neurosurgery, and your surgical team is very experienced. It may need to be performed as an emergency life-saving procedure. If it’s not an emergency, you may be asked to answer a lot of questions and may have other tests done before surgery. You should follow all instructions given to you before surgery. The amount of time you will spend in the hospital after a ventriculostomy depends on many things, including your general health before the procedure. Patients with a ventriculostomy typically spend multiple days in the intensive care unit and the hospital.

General discharge instructions

Your healthcare provider will give you specific instructions when leaving the hospital. In general, keep your incisions clean with soap and water but do not soak or scrub them. Do not push on the area where the catheter has been placed. Avoid straining or lifting heavy objects. Eat a well-balanced diet to help with healing. Some people find sleeping with more pillows to be helpful at first. Make sure someone looks at your incisions every day and contacts your doctor’s office with any concerns. Most patients can resume normal activity a few weeks after surgery. Most patients do not have any long-term limitations once they have recovered, but check with your doctor about your specific surgery.

What should I expect while recovering?

You may have a small amount of soreness at your incision where the tubing was passed under the skin. You will likely feel more tired when first returning home. It is not uncommon to need a stay at an inpatient rehabilitation facility or other facility before going home. That will be determined by your medical team before you leave the hospital.


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