Reservoirs integrated into hydrocephalus shunts are commonly used for the removal of CSF and for intra-ventricular pressure measurement. Pumping with the reservoir to diagnose shunt sufficiency is still a matter of controversy. The authors describe an improved flushing device and its characteristic features in vitro and in vivo.
The flushing reservoir is constructed with a sapphire ball in a cage as a nonresistance valve to also enable the detection of distal occlusions. The most important reservoir parameters were investigated in vitro, simulating total and partial proximal and distal shunt occlusions. Then the expected advantages were assessed in vivo by evaluating the pump test data of 360 implanted reservoirs. The results were compared with those found in the literature.
The optimization of the technical parameters of the device, such as the high stroke volume in combination with moderate suction force, are obvious advantages compared with other flushing devices. Total occlusion of the ventricular catheter and the valve could be assessed with high certainty. The detection of a total obstruction of the peritoneal catheter or any partial obstruction is also possible, depending on its exact grade and location.
Shunt obstructions can be assessed using the pumping test. The reservoir construction presented here provides a clear enhancement of that diagnostic test.