A selected series of 22 adult patients with hydrocephalus were treated by a shunt system incorporating a variable pressure Sophy valve or by ventriculojugular shunting against the direction of blood flow using the El-Shafei system. One patient had insertion of two Sophy valves and an El-Shafei shunt. Patient selection was reserved to those with hydrocephalus thought to be at high risk when shunted with systems containing a conventional unipressure valve. None of the eight patients who had ventriculojugular shunting by the El-Shafei method demonstrated any notable clinical or radiological improvement subsequent to shunt insertion. Of the 16 Sophy devices inserted only seven produced a satisfactory result. The current evaluation of shunt malfunction could be improved by support for a national register.