Contactless Ultrasonic Cavitation for the Prevention of Shunt Obstruction in Hydrocephalus: A Proof-of-Concept Study.

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Obstructive failure of implanted shunts is the most common complication in the treatment of hydrocephalus. Biological material and debris accumulate in the inner walls of the valve and catheters block the normal flow of the drained cerebrospinal fluid causing severe symptoms with high morbidity and mortality. Unfortunately, at present, there is no effective preventive protocol or cleaning procedure available. To assess whether externally applied, focused ultrasound beams can be used to resuspend deposits accumulated in brain shunts safely. A computational model of an implanted brain shunt was implemented to test the initial design parameters of a system comprising several ultrasound transducers. Under laboratory conditions, configurations with 3 and 4 transducers were arranged in a triangle and square pattern with their radiation axis directed towards a target model of the device, 2 catheters and a brain shunt filled with water and deposited graphite powder. The ultrasound beams were then concentrated on the device across a head model. The computational model revealed that by using only 3 transducers, the acoustic field intensity on the valve was approximately twice that on the brain surface suggesting that acoustic cavitation could be selectively achieved. Resuspension of graphite deposits inside the catheters and the valve were then physically demonstrated and video-recorded with no temperature increase. The technology presented here has the potential to be used routinely as a noninvasive, preventive cleaning procedure to reduce the likelihood of obstruction-related events in patients with hydrocephalus treated with an implanted shunt.
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