36 people have benefited from life-changing surgery over a fear of dementia, after a new clinic opened at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
Its work was put into the international spotlight on Monday (13 March) as a conference at Homerton College, Cambridge, heard about its achievements since June 2022.
Twelve more people are on the surgery list, wait times for help have been reduced by 37 percent, and 112 patients have been referred and seen at the clinic, guests have been told.
The symposium focused on a little-known condition called normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH), which is often misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease, but can be reversed by inserting a valve – known as a shunt – into the brain.
Heard about the Reverse Dementia Project (REVERT), a collaboration between the UK and France, led by the University of Cambridge and funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)
Addenbrooke’s consultant neurosurgeon and clinical lead for REVERT, Alexis Joannides, described how his clinic acts as a multidisciplinary shop for patients with suspected NPH. He talked about the “miraculous” effect and how it helped transform the lives of those with the condition, along with the lives of their loved ones.
“We’ve seen some amazing results in this country, and in Europe, and the symposium is a way to showcase these and discuss a wide range of initiatives aimed at improving patient care and sharing knowledge,” he said.
Mr Joannides and his colleagues are now hoping for NHS support as REVERT funding draws to a close.
Among those who have benefited is grandmother Jackie Middleditch, from Lowestoft, Suffolk, who after treatment overcame her enuresis, disorientation and inability to stand – and returned to gardening, walking and playing with her grandchildren.
Jackie made newspaper, TV and radio headlines and said of Addenbrooke at the time: “They gave me the gift of a new life.”
Patients thought to have NPH are given advanced diagnostics, including brain MRI and a lumbar infusion study, pioneered by the Cambridge Brain Physics Laboratory.
It involves placing fluid into the spine with a needle and calculating the resistance of the cerebrospinal fluid leaving the brain.
If the tests are compatible with NPH, surgery is considered to insert a shunt.
The Hydrocephalus Society estimates that nearly 700,000 adults have NPH, but less than 20% are diagnosed.
More than 20 experts from Europe participated in the Innovation and Transformation of Normal Hydrocephalus Symposium.
To find out more about REVERT, which is funded by the ERDF via the Interreg France (Channel) England programme, visit https://revertproject.org/
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