Medical Alert IDs and Hydrocephalus

medic_alert_braceletBy Jennifer Johnson, Education Manager

Why are Medical Alert ID’s Valuable for People with Hydrocephalus?

We asked our Facebook page: “Do you use a medical alert card/bracelet for your shunt or Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy (ETV)? If YES, tell us, what kind do you use and what information do you put on it?” We received some excellent feedback from parents, caregivers and individuals living with hydrocephalus. Many utilize several forms of medical IDs, however, there were many individuals who were not aware that something like this is available or the importance of it.

Under emergency circumstances, time is critical and being able to quickly identify your medical condition is of extreme importance. If you or your loved one were to go into shunt failure or ETV failure and are unable to communicate, medical IDs can provide rapid identification for emergency responders and medical personnel. Without proper identification, common symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness, sleepiness and vomiting can be misdiagnosed and appropriate care could be jeopardized or delayed.

What types of Medical Alert IDs are available for people with hydrocephalus and where can they be purchased?

Medical alerts come in various forms and shapes:

  • Wallet Cards (aka patient ID cards)
  • Bracelets
  • Necklaces
  • Dog tags
  • Sport ID Bands
  • USB Drives (as bracelets, key chains, necklaces, or just an old-fashioned flash drive)

Cynthia Wagner Quote


The options seem endless! The different forms of medical alerts allow individuals to choose based on their personal preferences, as some may prefer a piece of jewelry and others may want a card instead.

One of the most commonly used medical alerts within the hydrocephalus community is a wallet card, also known as a shunt card or ETV card. You may be able to obtain a shunt card from your neurosurgeon or by contacting your shunt manufacturer. If you do not have a shunt, but were treated with an ETV, you may acquire an ETV ONLY card by contacting us directly at Please know that we have a limited supply of the cards.

There are several organizations and companies that provide these different medical alert cards, jewelry and other devices and they can be purchased through multiple websites. Each of these organizations offers many different styles for men, women, and children. Here are a few resources:

medical_alert_symbol_thumb Medic Alert Foundation: 232 Colorado Avenue, Turlock, CA 95382
(888) 633-4298,
medical_alert_symbol_thumb American Medical ID: 949 Wakefield, Suite 100, Houston, Texas 77018
(800) 363-5985,
medical_alert_symbol_thumb Lauren’s Hope: 4823 NW Gateway Avenue, Riverside, MO 64150
(800) 360-8680,
medical_alert_symbol_thumb Rescue Me ID: 230 N. Maple Avenue B1-327, Marlton, NJ 08053
Phone: (866) 713-3808, Website:
medical_alert_symbol_thumb Sticky Jewelry: 1698 34th St. N, St. Petersburg, FL 33713
Phone: (727) 823-9500, Website:
medical_alert_symbol_thumb Macx USB Medical ID Bracelet
(Medical alert bracelet with flashdrive can be found at Target and other stores.)

Many of the products can also be found at different retail stores such as Target, Amazon, and Walmart. Make sure to look there, as well.

What Information should people with hydrocephalus include on their Medical Alert ID’s?

1. For shunt cards you may use the following:

Patient Data

  • Diagnosis: Hydrocephalus
  • Implant Date:
  • Patient Name:
  • Neurosurgeon:
  • MD Phone Number:


Product Information

  • Type of shunt: Ventriculo-peritoneal (VP) shunt, Ventriculo-atrial (VA), Ventriculo-pleural (VPL), Lumbo-peritoneal (LP)
  • Valve manufacturer: Aesculap, Codman, Integra, Medtronic, Sophysa
  • Product Code: (If available)
  • Serial Number: (If available)
  • If programmable, current valve setting

Shunt Card

2. For patients with an Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy (ETV):

  • Patient Name:
  • Emergency Contact:
  • Telephone Number:
  • Neurosurgeon:
  • MD Phone Number:

ETV Card

3. For patients who prefer jewelry or other devices:

The message on your medical alert device (bracelet, necklace, keychain… etc.) should be simple and to the point. “Hydrocephalus” should be engraved boldly on one side. The other side of the bracelet can have other information such as:

  • “VP Shunt”, “VA Shunt”, “VPL Shunt”, “LP Shunt”, or ETV
  • Emergency Contact and Telephone Number
  • Name of your Neurosurgeon and Telephone Number
  • A referral to another place for more information, for example “see wallet card for a full medical history”

Other information to consider adding to the medical IDs:

  • Other medical conditions (i.e. spina bifida, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, chiari malformation etc…)
  • Allergies (Latex, Penicillin…etc.)
  • Any other critical information such as Slit Ventricle Syndrome (SVS), number of shunts if you have multiple shunts…etc.
  • XYZ are the symptoms when I malfunction
  • A referral to another place for more information, for example “see wallet card for a full medical history”

There are many ways you can take precautionary measures to ensure that emergency responders are aware and can act quickly. The Hydrocephalus Association urges patients to take action in managing their hydrocephalus. If you are unsure of what type of treatment you received you can contact your neurosurgeon or the facility where your shunt was placed and ask for your medical records.

To learn more about shunts:

1. Shunt Systems Page

2. Hydrocephalus Resource Library

3. Other Resources:


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