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CSF Shunt Patency Study


  • You have been referred for a CSF Shunt Patency Study in which two sets of images (Initial and Delay) are performed of your shunt.

  • A CSF Shunt Patency Study is very sensitive in showing any possible blockages within your shunt that may be causing your symptoms.

  • Possible blockages can occur at the point of insertion (at the ventricle), within the tube itself or at the end of the shunt tubing (in the region of the abdomen, heart or lungs).

  • The test involves a small injection of  “tracer” into either your shunt reservoir, into a Rickham's Reservoir (if one exists) or into the shunt tubing itself (depending on shunt design and ease of access).

  • The tracer we use is called 99mTc-DTPA (99m-Technetium diethylene-triamine-penta-acetic acid). There are rarely any side effects with this injection.

  • During the injection of tracer, we obtain a sample of CSF for analysis.

  • Initial images are done of the head/neck, chest and abdomen using a Gamma Camera (1). This takes 15 minutes.

  • Once the initial images are complete, you will be asked to go for a walk for 10-15 minutes.

  • Delayed Imaging of the same area is repeated. This also takes 15 minutes.

  • You receive a slight radiation dose by having a CSF Shunt Patency Study ~ up to 0.08 times your yearly background radiation (2).


Patient Preparation:

  • If you are pregnant, trying to fall pregnant or breast feeding, you must inform our staff.

  • If you have had prior imaging e.g. PET, Nuclear Scan, CT, MRI, X-Ray, Ultrasound, etc... please bring these with you.

  • Please also bring your referral and any blood results that you may have had done.

  • There is no preparation for a CSF Shunt Patency Study i.e. eat and drink as normal.

  • If you are on any medications, please take these as normal.

  • Wear comfortable clothing and minimise the amount of metal jewellery you have on (all metal objects will need to be removed prior to imaging).

  • Important Note: You cannot have this test if you have had a PET or Nuclear Scan within 24 hours prior to this test. If you have had Iodine-131 therapy, allow 4-weeks before having this test. Please ring to discuss booking options.​


Breast-Feeding Mothers: Once you have been given the tracer, you need to stop breast-feeding for two feeds. During this time, you need to express and discard your breast milk. You will need to bottle-feed your child during this period.


(1) A Gamma Camera is a device that detects gamma-rays (gamma-rays are very similar to x-rays) and does not emit any radiation.

(2) We all receive a yearly background radiation dose ~ 2.4mSv. CSF Shunt Patency Study ~ 0.18mSv = 0.08 times yearly background dose.

value. quality care. convenience.

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