The history of external ventricular drainage

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Visish M. SrinivasanDrexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;
Department of Neurosurgery, Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and

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Brent R. O'NeillDivision of Pediatric Neurosurgery, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado

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Diana JhoDepartment of Neurosurgery, Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and

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Donald M. WhitingDrexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;
Department of Neurosurgery, Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and

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Michael Y. OhDrexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;
Department of Neurosurgery, Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and

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External ventricular drainage (EVD) is one of the most commonly performed neurosurgical procedures. It was first performed as early as 1744 by Claude-Nicholas Le Cat. Since then, there have been numerous changes in technique, materials used, indications for the procedure, and safety. The history of EVD is best appreciated in 4 eras of progress: development of the technique (1850–1908), technological advancements (1927–1950), expansion of indications (1960–1995), and accuracy, training, and infection control (1995–present). While EVD was first attempted in the 18th century, it was not until 1890 that the first thorough report of EVD technique and outcomes was published by William Williams Keen. He was followed by H. Tillmanns, who described the technique that would be used for many years. Following this, many improvements were made to the EVD apparatus itself, including the addition of manometry by Adson and Lillie in 1927, and continued experimentation in cannulation/drainage materials. Technological advancements allowed a great expansion of indications for EVD, sparked by Nils Lundberg, who published a thorough analysis of the use of intracranial pressure (ICP) monitoring in patients with brain tumors in 1960. This led to the application of EVD and ICP monitoring in subarachnoid hemorrhage, Reye syndrome, and traumatic brain injury. Recent research in EVD has focused on improving the overall safety of the procedure, which has included the development of guidance-based systems, virtual reality simulators for trainees, and antibiotic-impregnated catheters.

Abbreviations used in this paper:

EVD = external ventricular drainage; ICP = intracranial pressure.
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