Make BACTISEAL standard practice for shunt surgery

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Hydrocephalus affects one in every 1000 babies born (congenital hydrocephalus), making it the most common reason for brain surgery in children. It can also develop at any point in a person’s life (acquired hydrocephalus) as a result of infection, haemorrhage or injury to the brain.

The condition causes fluid inside the head and spine (cerebrospinal fluid or CSF) to accumulate in the brain. Left untreated, it can lead to increased pressure on the brain and in some cases, is life-threatening.

Prompt treatment is almost always required and usually involves surgery to implant a shunt – a thin tube – into the brain so that excess CSF can be diverted (normally to the abdomen) to relieve pressure on delicate brain tissues. In the UK shunts are inserted every year.

Sadly, until recently a staggering proportion of these procedures have resulted in post-operative infections. It’s a serious problem, requiring long hospital stays, lengthy treatment with antibiotics, further surgery, and the possibility of meningitis and even irreversible brain damage.

But following initial research funded by Shine, led by Prof. Roger Bayston, Professor of Surgical Infection at the University of Nottingham, and a subsequent study – the BASICS trial – the BACTISEAL ® catheter has provided remarkable results. 

By using the device - which can be used impregnate any type of shunt with two slow-release antibiotics – infection rates were reduced from 6% to 2%, and in some patient groups, were even completely eliminated.

Ground-breaking progress like this will make an enormous impact on those living with the condition.

Shine’s Health Development Lead, Gill Yaz, says: “The success of the BASICS trial has offered real hope to our membership. BACTISEAL ® provides the best results, first time.”

Until now, the type of shunt used in any procedure has been at the discretion of the operating surgeon. But Shine wants to make sure that it is used as standard in all new shunt surgery from going forward.

Gill continues: “By reducing the risk of shunt infections, we can avoid unnecessary stress for patients and their families, and improve the overall outlook post-surgery. And at a time when budgets are increasingly stretched, an average cost-saving of £130,000 per infection avoided could save the NHS around £7 million per year.

“We’re asking everyone to show their support during Hydrocephalus Awareness Week by signing our petition so that we can help to make sure every shunt procedure in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is carried out using a BACTISEAL® catheter. First time, every time."