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A doctor explaining a shunt procedure to a woman

A shunt procedure is a type of brain tumor surgery that can help alleviate pressure within the skull. In a healthy individual, a clear, watery liquid called cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) circulates throughout the brain and spine, serving as a cushion that protects against damage. A brain tumor, however, can block CSF from circulating as it normally does, allowing excess fluid to build up within the brain – this is called hydrocephalus. This can lead to headaches, nausea, neurological complications and other potentially critical issues. When this occurs, a surgeon can place a shunt (a small, hollow tube) in the brain to drain the excess fluid and relieve the associated side effects.

Because a shunt procedure does not address a tumor itself, it may be combined with one or more other surgical treatments that are designed to remove cancerous cells from the body. In some situations, patients might develop hydrocephalus in a delayed manner after removal of a tumor. Hence, a surgeon may place a shunt at the time the tumor is removed, or at a later time.

Moffitt Cancer Center – a high-volume cancer center – performs thousands of brain and skull base surgeries each year, including many shunt procedures. Our highly experienced surgical oncologists are leaders in the field of brain surgery, utilizing today’s most advanced techniques to routinely exceed survival expectations and help our patients improve their quality of life.

To learn more about the shunt procedure or any of the other surgical brain tumor treatments offered at Moffitt, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online. No referral is required.