Right now there is no cure for hydrocephalus.  The only treatment is a surgically implanted device called a shunt.  Lizzie has what is called a programmable ventriculoperitoneal (or VP) shunt.  This is a device that works like an overflow valve on a sink.  When the ventricles of the brain get overloaded with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) the pressure opens the valve on the shunt, and that allows the excess fluid to flow down to the peritoneal cavity (in the stomach area) and then be reabsorbed by the body.

The programmable part of the shunt is in the valve, which can be adjusted by a magnet from the outside, to correct the flow of the valve and how much pressure is allowed before it opens.  This allows for this type of shunt to be adjusted to fit the patient’s needs without the need of excessive surgeries to replace the valve.

In people without hydrocephalus this flow of fluid and reabsorbtion is a normal process, but in Lizzie’s case, the natural drain in her brain is too small to accommodate the flow of CSF and causes it to back-up. Her shunt alleviates this problem by freeing up the flow of fluid.