Purpose: To develop and validate a noninvasive imaging technique for accurately assessing very slow CSF flow within shunt tubes in pediatric patients with hydrocephalus, aiming to identify obstructions that might impede CSF drainage. Theory and Methods: A simulation of shunt flow enhancement of signal intensity (shunt-FENSI) signal is used to establish the relationship between signal change and flow rate. The quantification of flow enhancement of signal intensity data involves normalization, curve fitting, and calibration to match simulated data. Additionally, a phase sweep method is introduced to accommodate the impact of magnetic field inhomogeneity on the flow measurement. The method is tested in flow phantoms, healthy adults, intensive care unit patients with external ventricular drains (EVD), and shunt patients. EVDs enable shunt-flow measurements to be acquired with a ground truth measure of CSF drainage. Results: The flow-rate-to-signal simulation establishes signal–flow relationships and takes into account the T1 of draining fluid. The phase sweep method accurately accounts for phase accumulation due to frequency offsets at the shunt. Results in phantom and healthy human participants reveal reliable quantification of flow rates using controlled flows and agreement with the flow simulation. EVD patients display reliable measures of flow rates. Shunt patient results demonstrate feasibility of the method and consistent flow rates for functional shunts. Conclusion: The results demonstrate the technique's applicability, accuracy, and potential for diagnosing and noninvasively monitoring hydrocephalus. Limitations of the current approach include a high sensitivity to motion and strict requirement of imaging slice prescription.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMagnetic Resonance in Medicine
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • VP shunt
  • flow quantification
  • hydrocephalus
  • pediatric neurosurgery
  • pulse sequence
  • signal simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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