According to a new research it is observed that a surgically implanted shunt could help slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease. The research focuses on draining cerebrospinal fluid. This type of shunting was first used in 1970 for dementia, however the procedure was no longer used when there seemed to be a high incidence of side effects related to the shunts. Recent studies of this type of shunting on patients with abnormal amounts of spinal fluid in their head revealed a lack of cognitive decline in patients who also had Alzheimer's disease.
Researchers from Stanford University, University of Washington in Seattle, and the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix conducted a study on 20 patients. All of the patients' cognitive abilities were tested at the beginning of the study and every three months for one year. Twelve of the patients had a shunt surgically implanted and 9 patients did not receive the shunt. The two groups were similar in age and severity of dementia.
Researchers found the shunted patients experienced stability in their cognitive function while the group without the shunts had a "fairly robust" decline in cognitive function over the 12-month study. Researchers caution that this study is too small to make wide spread claims. However, they are very encouraged by the results.Researchers say this study demonstrates the need for further testing on shunting patients to prevent cognitive decline.