Shunts can become infected at the time of surgery or via the body fluids such as the blood stream. Infections can be very serious and can lead to strokes, paralysis, or even death. If In the abdomen, one gets peritonitis. However, if the brain end becomes infected, an infection of the brain can lead to meningitis.
If the shunt is in the lung, the patient may develop pneumonia.
If the shunt is in the heart, one may develop endocarditis.
If the shunt is in the abdomen, one may develop peritonitis.
The brain on the left shows areas of purulent infection (pus). The normally clear arachnoid covering of the brain (seen along the edges) is usually clear; now it is cloudy from the infection. There are tiny areas of hemorrhage (petechial hemorrhages) as well as inflammation. The membranes covering the brain are called meninges. An infection of this is called meningitis.