In hydrocephalus, there is a buildup of fluid of the brain and spinal cord (cerebrospinal fluid or CSF). This buildup of fluid causes higher than normal pressure on the brain. Too much pressure, or pressure that is present too long, will damage the brain tissue.
A shunt helps to drain the excess fluid and relieve the pressure in the brain. A shunt should be placed as soon as hydrocephalus is diagnosed. (from National Library of Medicine-link)
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Image source Radiopaedia (link) 3D CT scan of a a child with a VP shunt