Ultrasound stylet for non-image-guided ventricular catheterization

Nathaniel K. Coulson, Peter A. Chiarelli, David K. Su, Jason J. Chang, Brian MacConaghy, Revathi Murthy, Peter Toms, Terrence L. Robb, Richard G. Ellenbogen, Samuel R. Browd, Pierre D. Mourad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Object Urgent ventriculostomy placement can be a lifesaving procedure in the setting of hydrocephalus or elevated intracranial pressure. While external ventricular drain (EVD) insertion is common, there remains a high rate of suboptimal drain placement. Here, the authors seek to demonstrate the feasibility of an ultrasound-based guidance system that can be inserted into an existing EVD catheter to provide a linear ultrasound trace that guides the user toward the ventricle. Methods The ultrasound stylet was constructed as a thin metal tube, with dimensions equivalent to standard catheter stylets, bearing a single-element, ceramic ultrasound transducer at the tip. Ultrasound backscatter signals from the porcine ventricle were processed by custom electronics to offer real-time information about ventricular location relative to the catheter. Data collected from the prototype device were compared with reference measurements obtained using standard clinical ultrasound imaging. Results A study of porcine ventricular catheterization using the experimental device yielded a high rate of successful catheter placement after a single pass (10 of 12 trials), despite the small size of pig ventricles and the lack of prior instruction on porcine ventricular architecture. A characteristic double-peak signal was identified, which originated from ultrasound reflections off of the near and far ventricular walls. Ventricular dimensions, as obtained from the width between peaks, were in agreement with standard ultrasound reference measurements (p < 0.05). Furthermore, linear ultrasound backscatter data permitted in situ measurement of the stylet distance to the ventricular wall (p < 0.05), which assisted in catheter guidance. Conclusions The authors have demonstrated the ability of the prototype ultrasound stylet to guide ventricular access in the porcine brain. The alternative design of the device makes it potentially easy to integrate into the standard workflow for bedside EVD placement. The availability of a fast, easy-to-use, inexpensive guidance system can play a role in reducing the complication rate for EVD placement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-401
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Cerebrospinal fluid
  • External ventricular drainage
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Technique
  • Ultrasound
  • Ventriculoperitoneal shunts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Ultrasound stylet for non-image-guided ventricular catheterization'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this