Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) shunting in idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) is associated with high complication rates, primarily because of the technical challenges that are related to small ventricles and a large body habitus. In this study, the authors report the benefits of a standardized protocol for CSF shunting in patients with IIH as relates to shunt revisions.
This was a retrospective study of consecutive patients with IIH who had undergone primary insertion of a CSF shunt between January 2014 and December 2020 at the authors’ hospital. In July 2019, they implemented a surgical protocol for shunting in IIH. This protocol recommended IIH shunt insertion by neurosurgeons with expertise in CSF disorders, a frontal ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt with an adjustable gravitational valve and integrated intracranial pressure monitoring device, frameless stereotactic insertion of the ventricular catheter, and laparoscopic insertion of the peritoneal catheter. Thirty-day revision rates before and after implementation of the protocol were compared in order to assess the impact of standardizing shunting for IIH on shunt complications.
The 81 patients included in the study were predominantly female (93%), with a mean age of 31 years at primary surgery and mean body mass index (BMI) of 37 kg/m2. Forty-five patients underwent primary surgery prior to implementation of the protocol and 36 patients after. Overall, 12 (15%) of 81 patients needed CSF shunt revision in the first 30 days, 10 before and 2 after introduction of the protocol. This represented a significant reduction in the early revision rate from 22% to 6% after the protocol (p = 0.036). The most common cause of shunt revision for the whole cohort was migration or misplacement of the peritoneal catheter, occurring in 6 of the 12 patients. Patients with a higher BMI were significantly more likely to have a shunt revision within 30 days (p = 0.022).
The Birmingham standardized IIH shunt protocol resulted in a significant reduction in revisions within 30 days of primary shunt surgery in patients with IIH. The authors recommend standardization for shunting in IIH as a method for improving surgical outcomes. They support the notion of subspecialization for IIH shunts, the use of a frontal VP shunt with sophisticated technology, and laparoscopic insertion of the peritoneal end.