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A BioMEMS Sensor for Monitoring and Controlling Biological Fluid Flow

Team Members:
  • Walter Zhao
  • Soojung Claire Hur, PhD
  • Amir Manbachi, PhD


Hydrocephalus is a neurological condition caused by excess cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) within the cerebral ventricles. With symptoms ranging from nausea and lethargy to seizure and coma, untreated hydrocephalus results in severe loss of quality of life and death. Over one million people in the United States currently suffer from hydrocephalus, with 75,000 new cases each year. Of these, 20% are children: with one in 500 children being born with the disease, congenital pediatric hydrocephalus is as common as Down syndrome.

Current treatment implants a shunt to redirect CSF to another region of the body such as the peritoneal cavity or heart. However, shunts fail easily, with 50% malfunctioning within two years of use. Attempts to improve shunts have failed to alleviate this issue, with a hydrocephalus surgery occurring every 15 minutes. Standard diagnosis involves medical imaging and an invasive “shunt tap” procedure that risks infection. As these methods rely on a single measurement and require physician expertise, they are insufficient for long-term monitoring. Many patients effectively “rotate into the ER every seven months” to check their shunt, leading to large medical costs. A way to remotely and continuously detect and modulate shunt behavior is needed to improve patient quality of life and reduce strain on the healthcare system.

QuantiShunt is an innovative approach to treating hydrocephalus, allowing both patients and physicians to monitor shunt status in real time. Combining precise sensing capabilities and machine learning algorithms, our solution will enable patients to lead engaging and worry-free lives while allowing physicians to better personalize treatment to optimize patient well-being.

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