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Ommaya Reservoir

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What is an Ommaya Reservoir?

An Ommaya Reservoir is a small plastic device used to carry medicine to fluids in the brain and spinal cord. It also allows samples of cerebrospinal fluid (fluid around the brain and spinal cord) to be taken for testing.

Placing the reservoir

Before the surgery to place the reservoir, some of your hair will be shaved. The Ommaya Reservoir is shaped like a dome with a small tube (catheter) attached. An operation is performed to place it under the scalp on the top of the head. The catheter goes through a small round opening made in your skull and then into a hollow part of the brain where cerebrospinal fluid is located.

After the reservoir is in place, you will be watched for several hours in the hospital. After this, unless your doctor tells you otherwise, you may go back to your normal activity. You will return to the doctor’s office or clinic for your chemotherapy treatment as scheduled. At this time, medicine will be given or samples of spinal fluid will be taken. To get spinal fluid, a very small needle is put through the scalp into the Ommaya Reservoir.

After surgery

  • Keep the incision dry until the stitches or staples are taken out.
  • Until the incision is healed, do not wash your scalp or hair.
  • Avoid any injury to the area.
  • The Ommaya Reservoir does not require special care. You may continue all your normal every day activities.
  • Your hair will grow back quickly except for a very small area directly over the dome.

Things to report to your nurse or doctor

  • Temperature of 100.5 F (38.0C) or above
  • Tenderness, redness, or drainage from the site
  • Neck stiffness
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Separation of wound allowing you to see the reservoir
  • Drowsiness
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