Researchers at the University of Seville and the Virgen del Rocío University Hospital have published the first successful test results of a new technology designed to prevent blockages in catheters and valves (shunts) implanted in the brains of patients with hydrocephalus.
Early diagnosis and treatment of this complication poses considerable medical challenges, given that there are currently no technologies or prophylactic protocols to prevent this complication. Over time, complications can affect a considerable number of patients with hydrocephalus with shunts implanted. It is estimated that approximately 6000-10,000 people (adults and children) suffer from hydrocephalus in Andalusia alone.
Experiments in a European project called FUSCLEAN demonstrated the technology and showed that focused ultrasound emitted from outside the body could separate material in a controlled manner from the inside of a shunt implanted in the brain of a patient with hydrocephalus. FUSCLEAN technology allows preventive cleaning of catheters and valves without affecting the brain or other parts of the body.
The study was recently published in the journal Operative Neurosurgery. The concept and technology were designed and developed by Emilio Gómez, professor of applied physics at the Faculty of Advanced Technical Engineering of the University of Seville, in collaboration with Javier Márquez, a neurosurgeon and neurosurgeon at the Virgen del Rocío University Hospital, and the Center for Biomedicine. Associate Professor at the Institute of Seville (IBIS) and the University of Seville.
The research included numerical 3D simulations, experiments with actual catheters and valves in mannequins and laboratory models.
Technology for related diseases
Hydrocephalus is a highly related neurological disorder. The disease is fatal if left untreated. In most cases (80%), treatment consists of implanting a CSF shunt system (using a catheter and valve) into the distal cavity (usually the peritoneum). However, complications are common and unpredictable. The most common is obstruction of blood flow through implanted catheters and valves, and requires immediate neurosurgery because of the risk of severe nerve damage and even death. These complications have profound social impacts on patients’ quality of life, their families, and caregivers, and have high economic costs.
The FUSCLEAN technology will allow the development of personalized preventive treatments based on the individual’s condition and triage, which can be scheduled during regular patient check-ups.
The only selected Andalusian project
The concept and design of the project began within the framework of the European High Impact and Response Programme (ATTRACT Program) led by CERN, with the aim of developing innovative technologies for science and society. More than 1200 proposals from 40 countries were submitted to the programme; FUSCLEAN was the only Andalusian project to receive funding.
The implementation of the study was also supported by the Andalusian government through the collaboration of the Andalusian International Campus of Excellence in Technology in the field of health and social well-being and the Innovation and Prospect Foundation of the University of Malaga and the University of Seville, the Spanish Health Agency ( FIPSE) and Andalusian Technology Corporation (CTA), responsible for technology transfer.
Gomez-Gonzalez, E., Wait. (2022) Non-contact ultrasound cavitation for prevention of obstruction of hydrocephalus flow: a proof-of-concept study. Surgery Neurosurgery. doi.org/10.1227/ons.0000000000000372.