Skip to contents
In This Issue:
A patient with a certain programmable valve shunt could face several head x-rays to confirm the shunt was reprogrammed properly. But thanks to the research of a BWH nurse, a new device that reduces the need for x-rays and the length of patients’ appointments is now more widely available.
Nancy Olsen Bailey, RN, MBA, ambulatory staff nurse in Neurosurgery, conducted a clinical trial for the Valve Position Verification (VPV), a device that programs and acoustically confirms the pressures of programmable valve shunts. The VPV gained FDA approval in October following the two-year clinical trial.
“Nancy’s work has shown that we can avoid multiple skull x-rays to verify the setting of our programmable valve,” said Peter Black, MD, PhD, chief of Neurosurgery. “It is a great example of applied clinical research.”
Previously, after patients reported to the clinic to have the shunt reprogrammed, they would need a head x-ray to confirm the setting was correct. The VPV eliminates the need for an x-ray by confirming that the setting is correct in the treatment room, allowing for speedier appointments and increased patient satisfaction.
“With this innovative device, we can now reduce the amount of radiation a person with a shunt is typically exposed to,” Olsen Bailey said. “Aside from improved patient safety, appointments run more efficiently and cost is reduced. Everyone wins.”
Olsen Bailey enrolled 80 patients in the clinical trial and carefully monitored the performance of the device, which she believes will improve care and quality of life for patients with shunts. “We’re very excited to get patients home more quickly, doing the things they want to be doing rather than waiting in our office,” Olsen Bailey said.
About 500 BWH patients have this type of shunt implanted, including patients with brain tumors and hydrocephalus, a condition characterized by the abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the ventricles of the brain. These patients need the shunts to drain the excess fluid, which could lead to impairments in memory, bladder control and walking abilities if left untreated.
Of the six U.S. health care facilities participating in the trial, BWH enrolled the most patients.