High-resolution MRI for evaluation of ventriculostomy tubes: Assessment of positioning and proximal patency

A. M. Blitz, P. P. Huynh, L. W. Bonham, S. K. Gujar, D. E. Sorte, A. Moghekar, M. G. Luciano, D. Rigamonti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Imaging evaluation of ventriculostomy tubes, despite the frequency of malfunction, has remained inadequate due to the absence of a systematic way of assessing the catheter itself. In this retrospective review, we assessed the utility of high-resolution 3D MR imaging techniques, including CISS and volumetric interpolated breath-hold examination sequences, in the evaluation of ventriculostomy catheters. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We performed a retrospective review of 23 clinical MR imaging cases of shunted hydrocephalus spanning a 3-year period, all depicting ventriculostomy catheters. The MR imaging examinations included isotropic CISS and volumetric interpolated breath-hold examination sequences performed with and without contrast. These were independently evaluated by 2 neuroradiologists with respect to the catheter course, side hole position, relationship of the side holes to the ventricles, patency, and the presence or absence of intraluminal debris. RESULTS: The catheter tip was best seen on isotropic CISS sequences reformatted in an oblique plane, and side holes were visualized as CSF signal defects along the catheter wall in 10/23 (43%) cases. The relationship of the catheter side holes to the ventricles was seen in 47% of cases and was best visualized on the coronal CISS sequences. Catheter patency was confirmed in 12/23 (52%) cases, while the other 48% were notable for T2 hypointense filling defects compatible with luminal obstruction. Enhancement of some of these filling defects on imaging is suggestive of choroid plexus ingrowth rather than debris. CONCLUSIONS: High-resolution 3D MR imaging using isotropic CISS sequences allows systematic evaluation of catheter positioning, patency, and potential etiologic differentiation of filling defects when shunt dysfunction is suspected.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-63
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Neuroradiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology


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