Shunt surgery ‘improves’ dementia patients’ mental function

Shunt surgery ‘improves’ dementia patients’ mental functionWashington, Jan 26: Swedish researchers have shown that a shunt surgery could improve the mental function and the ability to walk in people suffering from dementia as a result of hydrocephalus and white matter changes.

The study was the first in the world to use a placebo-controlled design to prove the effects of dementia surgery on mental function in hydrocephalus patients.

Researchers at the University of Gothenburg and Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Sweden followed 14 dementia patients for an average of three and a half years after the operation.

Half of the group was given a functioning brain shunt while the other half of the group was given a non-functional shunt.

This type of placebo operation is highly unusual but provides the highest quality of reliable evidence that there is, said Magnus Tisell, consultant neurosurgeon at Sahlgrenska University Hospital.

The researchers found that patients'' mental functions and ability to walk improved tangibly after having a shunt inserted.

Half were given an open shunt right from the start and showed immediate improvement, while the other half were initially given a closed shunt and improved only after three months when the shunt was opened.

"Shunt operations have long been used for hydrocephalus, but this study offers more scientifically conclusive results to support the effect of the treatment, and also shows that shunt operations can help far more patients than previously believed with their walking and memory," said Tisell.

The findings could pave the way for a brand new group of patients who could benefit from a shunt operation.

The study is published in the American Journal of Neurosurgery. (ANI)