YOUR HEALTH: eShunt; Minimally invasive surgery for NPH

The procedure allows for an easier connection for patients.
Published: Apr. 28, 2023 at 4:28 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 28, 2023 at 7:15 AM CDT
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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - Normal pressure hydrocephalus is a condition that experts say is often overlooked as just part of the aging process or misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s. But for some patients, if it’s caught and treated, symptoms of the condition can be lessened or reversed. Now, for the first time in the United States, surgeons are testing a minimally invasive procedure to determine if they can safely treat NPH.

It’s a tricky condition that mimics Alzheimer’s, but NPH patients have three telltale symptoms: unsteady gait, memory loss, and frequent urination.

Yale School of Medicine neurosurgeon, Dr. Charles Matouk, MD says, “There’s a series of appropriate investigations that can take place so that you’re not missing an opportunity to help.”

Doctors confirm NPH with a spinal tap, then for some patients, surgeons insert a shunt into the brain to drain excess fluid, but that requires invasive surgery as surgeons drill into the brain.

“Even though many patients will significantly improve after a shunt, and it produces a meaningful improvement in their quality of life, there’s also a significant number of people that have a complication,” Dr. Matouk explains.

Dr. Matouk is part of the first medical team in the U.S. to test a minimally invasive procedure to drain fluid, called an eShunt. Instead of going through the brain, surgeons insert a catheter through a small puncture hole in the leg and work inside the vein to reach the brain.

“That connects this pocket of fluid at the base of your brain into the vein, the internal jugular vein in your neck,” Dr. Matouk adds.

The procedure allows for an easier connection for patients and allows the body to absorb the fluid and return to normal function.

Dr. Matouk is part of a Boston-based team testing the eShunt on 10 patients. An international team is also performing this procedure in Argentina. Dr. Matouk says after researchers see the results of surgery from the small sample of patients, the next step would be a larger, pivotal clinical trial.

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