Shunt CT

After the hand appointment we went and had a head CT series done to try and check on Ashleigh’s shunt. She has seemed more sleepy and not as quick with her movements the past few weeks. In the past these very subtle changes have been a precursor to a shunt failure which requires a shunt replacement and inevitably a major setback in any gains she has made.

(A tip for families when getting CT’s or x-rays. Ask the technicians for a copy while they are printing the one for the doctors. We always have success getting a copy and this will allow you to build a set that you can have to take with you to the ER if necessary.)

This is Ashleigh’s fourth shunt in six years. Some people have shunts that work trouble free for years and years. She has had no such luck. Ashleigh’s problems have mainly been with the shunt tube clogging where the shunt drains in the abdomen. The first failure was the worst. We could not convince our neurologist that there was a problem. We did talk him into checking with the neurosurgeon. The neurosurgeon said no, shunts do not partially fail or slowly fail, they are either on or off. And, if hers was off there would be rapid, significant symptoms leading to coma. Meanwhile we saw Ashleigh getting more lethargic, less responsive, and losing some of her movments.

This was the last straw for this doctor and his pompous, negative attitude. We called a doctor who consulted on Ashleigh when she was in rehab in Cincinnati. Dr. Van Loveren stunned my wife and I when he suggested we test the shunt. There is a test? Why hadn’t our other doctors suggested such a test? A radioactive dye was injected into the shunt and a series of x-rays taken to see how long it took the dye to pass through the shunt and its tubing and into the abdomen. In her case, the dye never came out of the tube. A surgery was scheduled and her first shunt revision took place.

Dr. Harry van Loveren was the total opposite of the neurosurgeon we had been dealing with. He would walk into the room and pull up a chair and ask a ton of questions and wouldn’t leave until all of our questions were answered. He talked to Ashleigh directly and often would hold her hand while we talked. This from a well-known doctor who often had other doctors from around the world shadowing him and traveled extensively yet when he was in the room with you, you felt you had his total attention and as much time as needed. He is as good of a person as he is skillful as a doctor.

We were very disappointed when he moved to Florida but we wish him continued success. Ashleigh still hopes to hold him to his offer to take her tandem skydiving with him one day. She would go tomorrow if she could.


  1. Anonymous on August 19, 2006 at 11:44 am

    I am a wife of a surviving TBI victim, it has only been a little over 3 months since his injury, we are on the second shunt and this one doesn’t appear to be working either. It is so frustrating and the drs seem so slow to respond. I wish you luck with this and maybe once an for all we will all find a shunt that works for more than a month or two.

  2. willi3cell on November 19, 2006 at 8:33 pm

    In 1975 I had A shunt put in and now it has recently dislocated from my abs but I can still see that its pumping I dont know much about it but it needs fixed Im just starting to find out how

  3. Anonymous on February 22, 2007 at 8:14 pm

    my aneruysm broke in99″ and know iam starting to have headaches all the time,and feel more tired is that asign the shunt is going bad maybe?

  4. Anonymous on March 18, 2007 at 5:42 am

    I am also fitted with a shunt after shattering my skull in a motorcycle accident.Is there any warning signs due to shunt failure?I have noticed some emotional setbacks(doesnt take much to get my blood boiling), I have always been a pretty easy going guy but lately I do not take crap from anyone. I spent 6 months in the hospital and have been like this since discharge. As of now, I am no longer talking to either of my siblings.I truly believe that I am the same person that I was before my accident but I definately notice a change recently.

  5. Danielle B. on June 2, 2007 at 10:56 pm

    My son Jaden is three years old, He has Dandy Walker Syndrom. Jaden has gone thru 3 shunt revieions. Jadens last shunt revision was 2 years ago. This is the longest the shunt has lastes. Jaden will have is fourth revision this month . Jaden has gone thru all the MRI and CT Scand And X-rays. All the test came back normal. This is not the firts time that the teat come back normal. His Dr. has done a shunt tap last week. The shunt tap has confirmed that the shunt has failed. There was no fuild being drained thru his shunt. Jadens MRI & CT Scans have always came out normal.Why ? Is there anyone out there that has heard of this or if you have a loved one with the same problems. Please I would love to here from you .

  6. on September 27, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    Hi everyone, As years goes on I hear all of everyones frustrating times , some times I think to myshelf Have I made the right choice for my son. Peter now, 25 has had over 200 shunts, some times each gets more challaing then the othe , he has been a coma, etc shunt infections I understand I am there I will pray for all of youir family you need to keep strong for each other that what they live for and fight so hard for is all of you god bless.

  7. Mary on August 23, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    I feel so sorry for these people.They give all their hopes to the Drs

  8. Anonymous on September 6, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    Please be encouraged: I got the first of four shunts in 1982; it failed one month later. My third lasted a little over six years. This fourth one I have had since 1993. It's a VP shunt to correct issues resulting from a suspected TBI.

  9. Josh Barnett on November 1, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    my first shunt was placed in 94 revision in 95 and i believe it maybe stop working i am showing alot of symptoms except for the head ach and vomiting it was first put in for presudotumor

  10. cynthia ruiz on January 19, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    I feel for all of you having revisions my son peter has had 400 shunt revisions and still the mountain is a high one to climb with gods help and wonderful doctors my son is still here with us today yes he is delayed but what a small price to pay to have my son still alive some times I feel so alone tried to make so many secisions but I have to hang on for my son he has spina bidifiA

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