OBJECT - The purpose of this study was to define the incidence of permanent shunt placement and infection in patients who have undergone the 2 most commonly performed temporizing procedures for posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus (PHH) of prematurity: ventriculosubgaleal (VSG) shunt placement and ventricular reservoir placement for intermittent tapping.
METHODS - The 4 centers of the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network participated in a retrospective chart review of infants with PHH who underwent treatment at each institution between 2001 and 2006. Patients were included if they had received a diagnosis of Grade 3 or 4 intraventricular hemorrhage, weighed < 1500 g at birth, and had received surgical intervention. The authors determined the incidence of conversion from a temporizing device to a permanent shunt, the incidence of CSF infection during temporization, and the 6-month CSF infection rate after permanent shunt placement.
RESULTS - Thirty-one (86%) of 36 patients who received VSG shunts and 61 (69%) of 88 patients who received ventricular reservoirs received permanent CSF diversion with a shunt (p = 0.05). Five patients (14%) in the VSG shunt group had CSF infections during temporization, compared with 11 patients (13%) in the ventricular reservoir group (p = 0.83). The 6-month incidence of permanent shunt infection in the VSG shunt group was 16% (5 of 31), compared with 12% (7 of 61) in the reservoir placement group (p = 0.65). For the first 6 months after permanent shunt placement, infants with no preceding temporizing procedure had an infection rate of 5% (1 of 20 infants) and those who had undergone a temporizing procedure had an infection rate of 13% (12 of 92; p = 0.45).
CONCLUSIONS - The use of intermittent tapping of ventricular reservoirs in this population appears to lead to a lower incidence of permanent shunt placement than the use of VSG shunts. The incidence of infection during temporization and for the initial 6 months after conversion appears comparable for both groups. The apparent difference identified in this pilot study requires confirmation in a more rigorous study.