Opportunities - Reducing Ventricular/Lumbar Drain and Ventricular Shunt Insertion Infections in the Adult Neurosurgery, Trauma and ICU Patient Population in Alberta (Treatments for Hydrocephalus)

Reducing Ventricular/Lumbar Drain and Ventricular Shunt Insertion Infections in the Adult Neurosurgery, Trauma and ICU Patient Population in Alberta 

Foothills Medical Center, Calgary; University of Alberta Hospital, Edmonton; Royal Alexandra Hospital, Edmonton


This opportunity is looking for adult patients with lived experience of hydrocephalus treatment, their family members and caregivers, to be valued members of the project’s advisory panel; contributing essential lived experience and expertise and providing patient perspective on impacts of shunt and EVD infection, infection protocols, and on patient-centred outcome measures.



Hydrocephalus (water on the brain) is as common as brain tumor in the adult patient. While often thought of as a disease affecting only children, it is in fact more common in adults. It affects two of every 1000 adults over the age of 65 and increases to as many as fifty of 1000 people over the age of 80. If left untreated, hydrocephalus may result in death or severe loss of brain function resulting in dementia or inability to walk.


There is no cure for hydrocephalus and the only treatments available are surgical. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) shunts are the most frequent type of surgical treatment and the most common shunt used in North America is the ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt. This VP shunt is a device with tubes (catheters) and a valve to redirect some of the CSF away from the brain into the belly cavity (peritoneum) where it can be reabsorbed.  At times, procedures called external drains (drain surgery) are required to monitor brain pressure or temporarily remove CSF.


A common and significant risk for patients undergoing a shunt or drain surgery is developing infection, which is reported to occur 6-15% of the time. Shunt and drain infections can have a bad effect on patient  outcomes, cause other complications, extend hospital stays, and increase hospital expenditures. Previous experience has demonstrated that shunt and EVD infections can be reduced by developing and mandating protocols aimed to significantly reduce infection.


To address this issue, we are applying to Alberta Innovates for funding to undertake this project for all three hospitals when adult neurosurgery is undertaken.  We want to understand the patient and caregiver perspective with regard to the impact of infections, how the acceptable the protocols will be, and to increase patient and caregiver awareness.


Roles and Responsibilities

We are looking for 2-4 adult patients with hydrocephalus and/or family caregivers (i.e. patient partners) to be part of an advisory panel. We would like the patient advisors to be involved throughout the project duration and to be involved in some or all of the following activities:


1) Provide feed back and input into the project activities and infection prevention protocols and outcome measures from the patient and caregiver prospective;

2) Participate in meetings and virtual information sessions;

3) Participate in a focus group and provide feedback regarding the development of communication materials for patients and the development of outcome measures;  and

4) Provide feedback on the project results.


Time Commitment

The start of the 3-year project will be determined by whether or not is is funded by Alberta Innovates.

If funded, the anticipated start date will be in the the late spring or early summer of 2021. Patient advisors will be asked to participate in 3 meetings per year (which may be by Zoom) over 4 years and to participate in 2-3 focus group sessions during the first year of the project.



This is a volunteer position.

Advisors will receive reimbursement for parking and travel, where necessary, for meetings and focus groups.


For more information or to apply, please contact


Mark Hamilton                                                Kayla

mark.hamilton@ahs.ca                                  Kayla.Johnny@ahs.ca

403.944.1626                                                 403.944.1626