Alterations in family psychodynamics following a ventriculoperitoneal shunt placement

  • P O Eghwrudjakpor Neurosurgical Unit, Department of Surgery and *Department of Mental Health, University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, P.M.B. 6173 Port Harcourt
  • A A Essien


Background: The emotional stress of a young couple whose child has hydrocephalus can be immense. When a shunt has to be inserted without the parents being thoroughly educated on every aspect of the procedure, the situation can be overwhelming and significant psychosocial problems can develop. Aim: To report the case of behavioural change in the father of a hydrocephalic child who underwent shunt placement and the threat of family collapse due to misconceptions about the procedure. Method: The records of the child, including history, examination, investigations and treatment were evaluated. The mother was extensively interviewed during follow-up out-patient visits. Relevant literature on shunt complications was reviewed. Result: Following shunt insertion for hydrocephalus in an only child of a young couple born after 3 years of marriage, the father started withdrawing from his family and gradually began to manifest symptoms of depressive illness. Recommendations: The parents of every child scheduled to have shunt insertion should be properly counselled together on all aspects of the procedure preoperatively. This would help ensure that any consent given is on the basis of their mutual understanding and acceptance of the situation. Where problems are anticipated, it might be necessary to take pre-emptive measures to forestall their occurrence.

Keywords: Behavioural change, Complications, Family psychodynamics, Foreign body, Hydrocephalus, Ventriculoperitoneal shunt

Port Harcourt Medical Journal Vol. 1 (2) 2007: pp. 130-132

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eISSN: 0795-3038