Initial results of using blood beta 2 transferrin as a marker of the functional status of a shunt
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Objective Ventriculoperitoneal shunt is the most common cerebrospinal fluid diversion procedure to treat hydrocephalus. With the change of physiologic cerebrospinal fluid absorption site from arachnoid granulations to the peritoneum, beta 2 transferrin enters the systemic circulation. Therefore, the detection of beta 2 transferrin in the blood can possibly be used as a noninvasive method to assess the functional status of the shunt. The objective of this study was to study the presence of beta 2 transferrin in patients with functional shunts and in shunts suspected of being malfunctional. Methods Blood samples were obtained from a group of 20 patients with functional ventriculoperitoneal shunts, from a control group of 10 age-matched healthy volunteers, and from 8 patients with suspected shunt malfunction (6 ventriculoperitoneal, 2 lumboperitoneal). Blood serum beta 2 transferrin levels were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay with specific anti-beta 2 transferrin antibodies. Results The mean age in the ventriculoperitoneal shunt group was 36.5 years (range, 24–50 years). The mean age in the control group was 39.5 years (range, 32–48). There was no statistical difference in age between the groups. Beta 2 transferrin levels were 1.99 ± 1.02 ng/mL in the ventriculoperitoneal shunt group and 0.05 ± 0.02 ng/mL in the control group; the statistical difference was strongly significant (P < 0.001). Patients presenting with suspected shunt malfunction had preoperative low beta 2 transferrin levels (0.10 ± 0.12). Postoperatively, their beta 2 transferrin levels increased to 1.75 ± 0.46 ng/mL, and the difference was statistically significant (P = 0.012). Conclusion Blood beta 2 transferrin can be used as a noninvasive test to assess the functional status of a shunt.
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