Prompt diagnosis of shunt malfunction is critical in preventing neurological morbidity and death in individuals with hydrocephalus; however, diagnostic methods for this condition remain limited. For several decades, investigators have sought a long-term, implantable intracranial pressure (ICP) monitor to assist in the diagnosis of shunt malfunction, but efforts have been impeded by device complexity, marked measurement drift, and limited instrumentation lifespan. In the current report, the authors introduce an entirely novel, simple, compressible gas design that addresses each of these problems.
The device described herein, termed the “baric probe,” consists of a subdural fluid bladder and multichannel indicator that monitors the position of an air-fluid interface (AFI). A handheld ultrasound probe is used to interrogate the baric probe in vivo, permitting noninvasive ICP determination. To assess the function of device prototypes, ex vivo experiments were conducted using a water column, and short- and long-term in vivo experiments were performed using a porcine model with concurrent measurements of ICP via a fiberoptic monitor.
Following a toe region of approximately 2 cm H2O, the baric probe's AFI demonstrated a predictable linear relationship to ICP in both ex vivo and in vivo models. After a 2-week implantation of the device, this linear relationship remained robust and reproducible. Further, changes in ICP were observed with the baric probe, on average, 3 seconds in advance of the fiberoptic ICP monitor reading.
The authors demonstrate “proof-of-concept” and feasibility for the baric probe, a long-term implantable ICP monitor designed to facilitate the prompt and accurate diagnosis of shunt malfunction. The baric probe showed a consistent linear relationship between ICP and the device's AFI in ex vivo and short- and long-term in vivo models. With a low per-unit cost, a reduced need for radiography or CT, and an indicator that can be read with a handheld ultrasound probe that interfaces with any smart phone, the baric probe promises to simplify the care of patients with shunt-treated hydrocephalus throughout both the developed and the developing world.