Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering
Supercomputing for multi-disciplinary optimization of obstructed ventricular catheters
Stephanie TerMaath’s Collaborative Cohort project could provide relief for the disabled.
TerMaath’s project focuses on brain shunts, which are used to treat disabled patients suffering from a range of life-threatening disorders. These disorders include congenital pediatric hydrocephalus, which is the accumulation of spinal fluid in the brain and is present in 1 in 500 live births.
While there is typically no cure for these patients, placement of a brain shunt often leads to symptom relief and prevents brain damage and death. Unfortunately, the brain shunt failure rate is currently greater than 50%, resulting in multiple brain surgeries in a patient’s lifetime.
One of the primary causes of failure and reoperation is obstruction of the ventricular catheter, the tube which diverts cerebrospinal fluid from the ventricles to the shunt valve. Improved design and optimization of the ventricular catheter requires the integration of science from the multi-disciplinary fields of high performance computing, fluid dynamics, structural mechanics, materials science, nuclear imaging, mathematics and probabilistic analysis.
TerMaath says, “This project merges scientific knowledge from these diverse fields to advance basic science in order to develop an improved design for ventricular catheters.”