Magnet Magic

Using magnets to treat babies and kids with hydrocephalus sounds like something from a science-fiction movie, but it’s happening here at CHOC Children’s.

Hydrocephalus (or water on the brain) is a condition where there is a lack of absorption, blockage of flow, or overproduction of the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) that surrounds the brain.  This can lead to dangerous buildup of fluid, increasing pressure inside of the head.

Some hydrocephalus patients need surgery, which usually involves placing a shunt into the child’s head to help drain the extra fluid from around the brain.

CHOC neurosurgeon Michael Muhonen, MD, was a primary investigator for clinical trials of Medtronic’s Strata Valve—part of a shunt system now being used worldwide to treat hydrocephalus.

Dr. Muhonen

Once surgically implanted in the brain, the settings on adjustable valves like Strata can be easily customized as the patient grows and changes. Dr. Muhonen uses a special magnet to change pressure settings in the shunt from outside the head. It’s noninvasive and totally pain-free.

Want to learn more about hydrocephalous and treatment options? Visit the CHOC Children’s Neuroscience Institute web site.

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