Ultrasound for the assessment of distal shunt malfunction in adults with internal ventricular shunts

S. Dane Moran, Debebe Theodros, Ignacio Jusué-Torres, E. Marianna Holman, M. Robert DeJong, Jennifer Lu, Jamie Hoffberger, Daniele Rigamonti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Shunts that are used for the treatment of hydrocephalus have a propensity towards malfunction, however, diagnosing a shunt malfunction can sometimes be a challenge. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether ultrasound technology can be safely and effectively used to assess for distal shunt malfunction. This was a prospective cohort study at a single institution. Eighteen adult patients that received a radionuclide shunt patency study also underwent an ultrasound shunt patency study. Ultrasound with Doppler technology was used to visualize flow through the shunt tubing following manual compression of the shunt reservoir. A peak flow speed was recorded and the results were compared to the results of the radionuclide shunt patency study. A Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curve comparing the ultrasound to the radionuclide shunt patency study was generated, revealing an Area Under the Curve (AUC) of 0.95 (95% CI: 0.84–1.00). The ultrasound test performed maximally with a cutoff speed of ≤10 cm/s as the criteria for malfunction, with a sensitivity of 100.00%, specificity of 90.91%, accuracy of 94.44%, positive likelihood ratio of 11.000 and negative likelihood ratio of 0.000 using the radionuclide study results as criteria for comparison. Overall, ultrasound has the potential to be a safe, quick, available and cost-effective screening test for patients with suspected distal shunt malfunction. The high sensitivity of the test makes it an attractive option for use as a screening method that could potentially reduce the number of cases requiring radionuclide shunt patency study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)282-287
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
StatePublished - Nov 2017


  • Hydrocephalus
  • Radionuclide imaging
  • Sensitivity and specificity
  • Ultrasonography
  • Ventriculoperitoneal shunt

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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