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Approaches to ventriculoperitoneal shunt scalp erosion: countersinking into the calvarium. Illustrative case

Denise Brunozzi, Melissa A LoPresti, Jennifer L McGrath, and Tord D Alden


Ventriculoperitoneal shunting (VPS) is a standard procedure for the treatment of hydrocephalus, and the management of its complications is common in the practice of pediatric neurosurgery. Shunt exposure, though a rare complication, can occur because of thin, fragile skin, a young patient age, protuberant hardware, poor scalp perfusion, and a multitude of other patient factors.


The authors report a complex case of VPS erosion through the scalp in a young female with Pfeiffer syndrome treated with external ventricular drainage, empirical antibiotics, and reinternalization with countersinking of replaced shunt hardware into the calvarium to prevent internal skin pressure points, reduce wound tension, and allow wound healing.


Recessing the shunt hardware, or countersinking the implant, into the calvarium is a simple technique often used in functional neurosurgical implantation surgeries, providing a safe surgical strategy to optimize wound healing in select cases in which the skin flap is unfavorable.