Shunts to treat hydrocephalus perform their function 24/7 — but not invisibly. The bump under patients’ skin, either on top of the head or behind the ear, is a constant reminder of their condition. It can be a serious cosmetic and lifestyle impediment, particularly for individuals who are bald, have a shaved scalp or thinning hair.

Hirad Hedayat, MD, Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin neurosurgeon, is pioneering an approach that preserves the natural contours of the cranium. He is one of the first neurosurgeons in the country to implant InvisiShunt®, a unique shunt valve casing.

“The shunt itself is a standard device; the only difference is that InvisiShunt is a cradle for it,” Dr. Hedayat said. “It sits in a notch made in the skull, holding the valve so it is completely flat. It makes all the difference because patients don’t have a big bump on their scalp.”

InvisiShunt accommodates a range of different valves and can be used for any reason a shunt is being placed. It is made of a neuroplastic material — high-density polyethylene — that is also used in craniofacial reconstruction and augmentation. Once seated in the InvisiShunt, the valve stays in place and the casing conforms to the contours of the skull. InvisiShunt also helps reduce wound complications related to the size of the valve and the stretching of the skin caused by the valve.

Extra Minutes to Implant Adds a Lifetime of Value

Implanting InvisiShunt adds a minimal amount of time to the shunt surgery.

“In experienced hands, it’s only another 20 minutes to make that notch in the skull,” Dr. Hedayat said. “Knowing the person has to live with it for a lifetime, there’s high value to those extra few minutes.”

Patients who undergo this procedure will likely experience scalp numbness afterwards, as they would with traditional shunt surgery, but feeling should return in about a year.

Neurosurgeons can employ InvisiShunt on most adult shunt procedures. The only exception would be if a patient has a previous large incision on the head.

“There’s only so much blood flow going to the scalp, and too many incisions can affect it and the skin can die,” Dr. Hedayat said. Old shunts can also be converted to the InvisiShunt system if patients find the bump from the shunt valve interfering with their daily lives or if they have had skin breakdown over these areas.

InvisiShunt Gives a Boost to Comfort and Appearance

Dr. Hedayat expects adoption of InvisiShunt to increase as more neurosurgeons become aware of its benefits to patients.

“Imagine a person who’s bald or shaves their head — with the standard shunt they can see it,” he said. “Someone with a full head of hair can feel it when they comb their hair. Now with InvisiShunt recessed in their skull, patients will often forget they even have a shunt.”

This new approach brings not only a leading-edge medical solution to patients but also improves their quality of life.

“The functionality doesn’t change, but the comfort and cosmetic results long term are significantly better with InvisiShunt than the standard shunting procedure,” Dr. Hedayat said. “For patients not to have a prominent valve after a life-changing event, you can’t really put a price on the value of that.”

For Our Referring Physicians:

Academic Advantage of NPH Treatment Services

The Froedtert & MCW health network gives patients and their referring physicians a distinct advantage.

Contact our physician liaison team for more information about InvisiShunt, our NPH Treatment Program or if you would be interested in meeting with any of the neuroscience team members.