An Implantable In-line Shunt Flow Monitor for Hydrocephalus Treatment


Hydrocephalus, or water in the head, is a medical condition in which there is an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the ventricles of the brain. This causes increased intracranial pressure inside the skull and may cause progressive enlargement of the head if it occurs in childhood, resulting in convulsions, tunnel vision, and mental disability. Present treatment for the hydrocephalic condition utilizes some type of a cerebral shunt. Specifically it involves the placement of a ventricular catheter (an elastomeric tube often of silicone), into the cerebral ventricles to bypass the flow obstruction/malfunctioning arachnoidal granulations and drain the excess fluid into other body cavities, from where it can be resorbed. Typically the catheter terminates in a valve which opens when some preset pressure is reached. However, experience indicates that there is considerable hysteresis and/or irreproducibilities in the precise pressure at which the valve opens. The valve provides a prophylactic measure to any backflow and prevents CSF drainage at a more rapid rate than it is produced.

Although a shunt (by this term we include both the catheter and the valve) generally works well initially, it stops working if it disconnects, becomes blocked (clogged), infected, or is outgrown. If this happens the cerebrospinal fluid will begin to accumulate again and a number of physical symptoms may develop that may include headaches, nausea, vomiting, photophobia/light hypersensitivity, etc. In extreme cases violent seizures may ensue. The shunt failure rate is 39% within one year and 53% within 2 years in pediatric neurosurgery, following initial shunt placement. On average 75,000 shunt operations are performed annually in the United States, the majority in infants/children. A reliable, cost- efficient straightforward method to detect proper operation will ease the life of a large number of patients and reduce health care costs. In this proposed project an interdisciplinary team of scientists from UTA will collaborate with neurosurgeons from UNTHSC to develop a novel implantable in-line shunt flow monitoring microsystem that can deliver both on-demand and potentially continuous quantitative readings of the CSF flow in the drain tube.

Purnendu Dasgupta, Ph.D. UTA
Jenkins Garrett Professor – Chemistry & Biochemistry
Albert H. Yurvait, DO, FACOS, FICS, FAHA, UNTHSC
Anthony Lee, MD, FACS, UNTHSC
Aditya Das, Ph.D. UTARI

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