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School of Medicine Greenville

Student Research Spotlight

Tristan Mackey

What are you researching?

The use of ventriculogallbladder (VGB) shunts are reserved for when
ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunts have failed as a treatment for hydrocephalus, which means they are rarely used. Given this, there are very few studies that report the complications that may occur with these shunts and help to deepen our understanding of how long these shunts last. The purpose of this project is to understand the longevity of VGB shunts, what complications tend to result in their removal, and how these data compare to those from other studies that have reported the use of these shunts.

How could the results benefit patients?

We are hoping that the results of this retrospective study, along with the comparison to prior studies, will further our understanding about when to use these shunts and how long we can expect them to function. The choice to transition to this type of shunt rather than simply do a shunt revision for another VP shunt is not well defined so understanding how well these types of shunts truly function can be crucial for clinical decision making. It is our hope that this study will help increase the available data pool for VGB shunts and have an impact on their use in the treatment of pediatric hydrocephalus.

Tell us why you enjoy research.

I think my favorite part about research is seeing how it impacts medical practice. Many of the research projects that I have participated in at this institution have the opportunity to immediately impact policies and clinical practices at this institution, which can be a unique aspect that is not experienced at some institutions. Gathering data, analyzing it, and then watching the results be used in conversations to impact patient care is inspiring and always reminds me why it's important that we participate in research.

What advice would you give to other students considering doing a research project?

The best advice that I can give is to never be afraid to ask someone if they have a project that you can help with or if they would be able to point you in the right direction. There are so many physicians and faculty members that have interesting ideas or projects at various stages in the research process. It can be overwhelming to ask for opportunities at times but if you don't, then you could miss out on a great chance to be involved.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.