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Hydrocephalus Shunting

Hydrocephalus Shunting

Medtronic offers minimally invasive solutions for hydrocephalus shunting, from adjustable pressure valves and antibiotic-impregnated catheters to neuronavigation systems that guide placement.

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About Hydrocephalus Shunting

Strata Adjustable Pressure Valve for CSF Management

Strata Adjustable Pressure Valve for CSF management

Shunting is the most common treatment for anyone with hydrocephalus (excess fluid buildup in the ventricles of the brain). Hydrocephalus shunting involves the implantation of two catheters and flow control valve system to drain the excess accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from the brain’s ventricles (or the lumbar subarachnoid space) to another part of the body where it can be absorbed.

Valves and Catheters

There are two types of differential pressure valves: fixed and adjustable. Fixed pressure valves have been used successfully for years, but necessitate shunt revision when the patient’s pressure/flow requirements change. With adjustable pressure valves such as our Strata® valves, the pressure/flow performance level setting can be changed after implantation, potentially avoiding the cost and trauma of shunt revision surgery.

Catheters are an important part of managing hydrocephalus, and certain patient populations are at greater risk of developing shunt infections. Our Ares™ Antibiotic-Impregnated Catheters help reduce bacterial colonization and work with any Medtronic shunt system.


Neuronavigation can facilitate minimally invasive ventricular access and optimal shunt placement. Our StealthStation® neuronavigation systems work with either optical or AxiEM electromagnetic tracking devices, providing flexible options for each surgeon’s needs. The AxiEM System enables tip tracking of flexible surgical instruments such as stylets, endoscopes, and catheters. It also offers both pinned and pinless procedure options. Pinless, image-guided shunt placement provides the following benefits:

  • Enables neuronavigation without the need for affixing the patient in head-holder
  • Better enables the use of surgical navigation for a ventriculostomy and other ventricular access or burr hole procedures
  • Eliminates the need for additional incisions when used in conjunction with a non-invasive (adhesive) patient tracker

Important Safety Information

Shunt obstruction may occur in any of the components of the shunt system. The ventricular catheter may become occluded by particulate matter such as blood clots or brain fragments, by investment of the catheter tip in choroid plexus, by embedding of the catheter in brain tissue, or by coaptation of the ventricular walls in the presence of overdrainage ("slit ventricles"). It is important to review the product labeling for complete safety information, potential complications, contraindications, and a complete explanation of warnings and precautions.

Research shows that there is an increased risk of shunt valve infection in younger patients, especially premature infants, patients who have had a previous shunt infection, and patients who have been on an external drainage system. Shunt infections are associated with much greater morbidity for patients, as well as increased costs to healthcare providers and society. Complications include additional surgeries and lengthened hospital stays, developmental disabilities and loss of IQ, and death.