In pediatric hydrocephalus, shunts tend to result in smaller postoperative ventricles compared with those following an endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV). The impact of the final treated ventricle size on neuropsychological and quality-of-life outcomes is currently undetermined. Therefore, the authors sought to ascertain whether treated ventricle size is associated with neurocognitive and academic outcomes postoperatively.
This prospective cohort study included children aged 5 years and older at the first diagnosis of hydrocephalus at 8 Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network sites from 2011 to 2015. The treated ventricle size, as measured by the frontal and occipital horn ratio (FOR), was compared with 25 neuropsychological tests 6 months postoperatively after adjusting for age, hydrocephalus etiology, and treatment type (ETV vs shunt). Pre- and posttreatment grade point average (GPA), quality-of-life measures (Hydrocephalus Outcome Questionnaire [HOQ]), and a truncated preoperative neuropsychological battery were also compared with the FOR.
Overall, 60 children were included with a mean age of 10.8 years; 17% had ≥ 1 comorbidity. Etiologies for hydrocephalus were midbrain lesions (37%), aqueductal stenosis (22%), posterior fossa tumors (13%), and supratentorial tumors (12%). ETV (78%) was more commonly used than shunting (22%). Of the 25 neuropsychological tests, including full-scale IQ (q = 0.77), 23 tests showed no univariable association with postoperative ventricle size. Verbal learning delayed recall (p = 0.006, q = 0.118) and visual spatial judgment (p = 0.006, q = 0.118) were negatively associated with larger ventricles and remained significant after multivariate adjustment for age, etiology, and procedure type. However, neither delayed verbal learning (p = 0.40) nor visual spatial judgment (p = 0.22) was associated with ventricle size change with surgery. No associations were found between postoperative ventricle size and either GPA or the HOQ.
Minimal associations were found between the treated ventricle size and neuropsychological, academic, or quality-of-life outcomes for pediatric patients in this comprehensive, multicenter study that encompassed heterogeneous hydrocephalus etiologies.