Hydrocephalus shunt valve

Project Overview

Each time the heart beats, it squirts blood into the brain at 1000 ml/min. About 1 ml/min crosses the blood-brain barrier, remains within the skull, and must be reabsorbed by the dura. In the disease hydrocephalus, reabsorption is poor, the intracranial pressure (ICP) increases, and crushes the brain, leading to morbidity and death. The neurosurgeon inserts a shunt tube into the brain and dumps about 1 ml/min into the abdomen. But then the ICP is too low because of overdrainage. Shunt valves measure the differential pressure between ICP and the abdomen and work fine when you are supine. But when you stand up the fluid column sucks tissue into the shunt. 40% of these implants fail, which requires a second surgical operation to remove the clogged shunt and replace it with a new one. You must develop a valve that opens only when the ICP exceeds ambient pressure by a threshold amount. It will prevent overshunting, siphoning, and second surgical operations to remove the clogged shunt and replace it with a new one. You must design a valve that measures the difference between the ICP and ambient pressure like that in US patent 9526879 and demonstrate that it works.

Project Status

The team has fabricated a testable large-scale proof-of-concept prototype out of off-the-shelf parts.


Team picture

Team members from left to right: Catharine Flynn, Emma Alley, Karl Fetsch, Andrew Miller


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Progress Reports

Contact Information

Team Members

Advisor and Client