Shunt Malfunction

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When a child with hydrocephalus joins a school, the school will need to ascertain what action should be taken in the event that the child has a problem that could be related to his/her hydrocephalus and the parents are unavailable.

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Shunt Malfunction

  1. 1. shinecharity.org.uk info@shinecharity.org.uk 42 Park Road Peterborough PE1 2UQ 01733 555988Shunt MalfunctionA protocol to symptoms & suggested action for schools/employersWhen a child with hydrocephalus joins a school, the schoolwill need to ascertain what action should be taken in theevent that the child has a problem that could be relatedto his/her hydrocephalus and the parents are unavailable.The preferences of neurosurgeons vary with each hospitalunit – some like the child to be transported direct to theneurosurgical unit, others prefer the child to be assessed ata local A&E department first.Signs of acute shunt malfunction or blockage may include:vomiting or nausea abdominal painphotophobia (sensitivity to light) + other visual disturbancesdrowsiness seizures (fits)headache dizzinessIf a child with a shunt (or who has had hydrocephalus treated by 3rdventriculostomy) displays all or some of the above THINK SHUNT
  2. 2. Shunt MalfunctionA protocol to symptoms & suggested action for schools/employersACTION1) Inform parents2) If parents are unavailable ask child for his/her shunt alert card & look forname of neurosurgeon. Phone neurosurgical unit & speak to Ward Sisteror Neurosurgical Registrar. Please do NOT leave message with ward clerkor junior3) It may be necessary to arrange transport to a neurosurgical unit. Insome areas, the policy is for the child to be assessed at a local hospital. IF A CHILD DEVELOPS SYMPTOMS OF A SHUNT BLOCKAGE (OR MALFUNCTION OF 3RD VENTRICULOSTOMY) YOU NEED TO CONTACT THEIR SPECIALIST NEUROSURGICAL UNIT WITHIN 4 HOURS OF ACUTE SYMPTOMS DEVELOPING, FOR ADVICE
  3. 3. Shunt malfunction may present as a chronic condition (ie over some time- weeks or even months)If a child with hydrocephalus presents with:fatigue behaviour changesgeneral malaise decline in academic performancevisuo-perceptual problems being just ‘not right’ THE PARENTS NEED TO BE INFORMED Do not assume that someone else will tell them or that they will necessarily notice “vague” symptomsIt is especially important that children with hydrocephalus have access toclear fluids particularly if the weather is hot, the classroom is overheated,or after exercise. Clear fluids can include water or squash, but not ‘coke’ or any drink containing caffeine
  4. 4. Help usShine relies on people’s generosity and support so we can help our clientswho depend on us for help and advice - people with hydrocephalus,spina bifida, their families and carers. To donate to Shine please visitwww.shinecharity.org.uk or call 01733 421329.This information has been produced by Shine’s medical advisers andapproved by Shine’s Medical Advisory Committee of senior medicalprofessionals.Shine - Registered charity no.249338To see our full range of information sheets and to find out how to donateto Shine please visit www.shinecharity.org.uk

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