Fiberoptic delivery of laser energy to remove occlusions from ventricular shunts

William A. Christens-Barry, Michael Guarnieri, Benjamin S. Carson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: Shunts frequently require surgical replacement because occlusions block the ventricular tubing. We have examined the hypothesis that a surgical laser coupled to an optical fiber can deliver sufficient energy to disrupt the occlusion in situ and thus afford a less invasive method of repair. METHODS: Choroid plexus tissue found in shunts explanted from patients, model tissues such as polyacrylamide gel, and animal tissues inserted into shunts were examined. Occlusions were fragmented by pulsed laser energy of 2.09-μm wavelength and 300-microsecond duration delivered via a flexible optical fiber several meters in length. The methods and conditions were similar to those likely to be used for preclinical in vivo studies. RESULTS: Short-lived vapor bubbles generated at the fiber tip disrupted occlusions within the shunt and expelled tissue blocking the inflow holes. Energy requirements to disrupt and remove occlusions in vitro were determined. Laser pulse energies and exposure thresholds that cause intentional damage to shunts also were determined. CONCLUSION: Laser energies needed to disrupt occlusions were below the energy needed to damage the shunt components. Our results show that a strategy using surgical lasers and optical fibers is feasible and suggest that the procedure could be used to repair blocked shunts without requiring surgical replacement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-350
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 1999


  • Cerebrospinal fluid shunt
  • Fiber optics
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Laser surgery
  • Pediatric neurosurgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Fiberoptic delivery of laser energy to remove occlusions from ventricular shunts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this