The Role of 3D Reconstruction of the Skull in Patients with Suspected Shunt Malfunction

Jonathan Roth, Tali Jonas Kimchi, Ben Shofty, Ariel Agur, Liat Ben-Sira, Shlomi Constantini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Mechanical shunt malfunction may lead to significant morbidity and mortality. Shunt series assessments help evaluate shunt integrity; however, they are of limited value in the area of the skull due to skull curvature, thickness, and air sinuses. We describe the role of 3D bone reconstruction CT (3DCT) in demonstrating the shunt integrity over the skull, comparing this technique to skull X-rays (SXR). Methods: Data were collected retrospectively for shunted patients with concurrent SXR and 3DCT and for patients presenting with shunt failures at the region of the skull, including clinical course and radiological findings. We compared the SXR and 3DCT findings. The 3DCT was reconstructed from standard diagnostic CT protocols performed during evaluation of suspected shunt malfunction and not thin-slice CT protocols. Results: Forty-eight patients with 57 shunts underwent SXR and 3DCT. Interobserver agreement was high for most variables. Both SXR and 3DCT had a high sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy identifying tubing disconnections (between 0.83 and 1). Full valve type and setting were significantly more accurate based on SXR versus 3DCT (>90 vs. <20%), and valve integrity was significantly more readily verified on 3DCT versus SXR (100 vs. 52%). Conclusions: 3DCT and SXR complement each other in diagnosing mechanical shunt malfunctions over the skull. The main limitation of 3DCT is identification of valve type and settings, which are clearer on SXR, while the main limitation of SXR is a less ability to evaluate valve integrity. 3DCT also enables an intuitive 3D understanding of the shunt tubing over the skull.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-115
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Neurosurgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Computed tomography
  • Reconstruction
  • Shunt malfunction
  • Shunt series


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