One to two newborns out of every 1000 develop hydrocephalus, an excess of fluid in the brain. One treatment for hydrocephalus is to implant a catheter or shunt to divert excess fluid. However, when a catheter is implanted, the body’s natural reaction is to protect itself against the foreign material. Blood cells, inflammatory cells, and tissue quickly cover the catheter, often blocking the catheter’s inlet and preventing drainage of the excess fluid. In many cases, the patient requires a follow up surgery to restore the flow in the catheter. To prevent this blockage from occurring, researchers at Purdue University are developing self-clearing catheters that use magnetic force to remove biomaterials that attach to the catheter. The technology can be assembled into existing catheters to enhance reliability and eliminate the need for additional surgery to replace failing devices. The technology is currently undergoing further testing.
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