Patients who need a ventriculoperitoneal shunt (VP Shunt) but have scarring or infections in their abdomen may benefit from placing the drainage catheter directly into the bloodstream.
Additionally, patients who already have VP shunts but need further drainage to achieve symptom relief may need to drain directly into the lower pressure venous vessels. This is achieved with a ventriculoatrial shunt (VA Shunt).
This procedure is also well tolerated and carries similar risks to a VP shunt. Though the risk to the abdominal organs is eliminated, there is a slightly higher risk of bloodstream infections or heart valve infection (endocarditis). Also, there is a higher risk in patients with cardiac arrhythmias as the catheter can irritate the heart rhythm control region.
Placing a new VA shunt requires an inpatient stay. However, converting from a VP to VA shunt can be done on an outpatient basis for some patients.