Shunt obstruction is a major problem in treatment as 85% of shunts fail within ten years of implantation. While our long term goal is to prevent obstruction altogether, our short term goals examine tissue obstruction in the ventricular catheter: the density and morphology of cells which cause blockage, a better understanding of tissue infiltration of holes and of the catheter lumen through non-invasive MR imaging, in vitro models of catheter obstruction, and improvements to shunt design (catheter material and catheter architecture).
The image on the right shows of a portion of a cell mass collected from a hydrocephalus shunt implanted in a rabbit for studying cell growth dynamics. The histochemical labeling indicates that the majority of cells are either astrocytes (red/purple) or microglia (green/cyan).
The image below shows a photograph of the end of a ventricular shunt showing one of four rows of holes that provide drainage of cerebral spinal fluid after implant into a brain ventricle of a patient with hydrocephalus. The penny provides a scale reference.