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William E. Whitehead, Jay Riva-Cambrin, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, John C. Wellons III, Curtis J. Rozzelle, Mandeep S. Tamber, David D. Limbrick Jr., Samuel R. Browd, Robert P. Naftel, Chevis N. Shannon, Tamara D. Simon, Richard Holubkov, Anna Illner, D. Douglas Cochrane, James M. Drake, Thomas G. Luerssen, W. Jerry Oakes and John R. W. Kestle


Accurate placement of ventricular catheters may result in prolonged shunt survival, but the best target for the hole-bearing segment of the catheter has not been rigorously defined. The goal of the study was to define a target within the ventricle with the lowest risk of shunt failure.


Five catheter placement variables (ventricular catheter tip location, ventricular catheter tip environment, relationship to choroid plexus, catheter tip holes within ventricle, and crosses midline) were defined, assessed for interobserver agreement, and evaluated for their effect on shunt survival in univariate and multivariate analyses. De-identified subjects from the Shunt Design Trial, the Endoscopic Shunt Insertion Trial, and a Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network study on ultrasound-guided catheter placement were combined (n = 858 subjects, all first-time shunt insertions, all patients < 18 years old). The first postoperative brain imaging study was used to determine ventricular catheter placement for each of the catheter placement variables.


Ventricular catheter tip location, environment, catheter tip holes within the ventricle, and crosses midline all achieved sufficient interobserver agreement (κ > 0.60). In the univariate survival analysis, however, only ventricular catheter tip location was useful in distinguishing a target within the ventricle with a survival advantage (frontal horn; log-rank, p = 0.0015). None of the other catheter placement variables yielded a significant survival advantage unless they were compared with catheter tips completely not in the ventricle. Cox regression analysis was performed, examining ventricular catheter tip location with age, etiology, surgeon, decade of surgery, and catheter entry site (anterior vs posterior). Only age (p < 0.001) and entry site (p = 0.005) were associated with shunt survival; ventricular catheter tip location was not (p = 0.37). Anterior entry site lowered the risk of shunt failure compared with posterior entry site by approximately one-third (HR 0.65, 95% CI 0.51–0.83).


This analysis failed to identify an ideal target within the ventricle for the ventricular catheter tip. Unexpectedly, the choice of an anterior versus posterior catheter entry site was more important in determining shunt survival than the location of the ventricular catheter tip within the ventricle. Entry site may represent a modifiable risk factor for shunt failure, but, due to inherent limitations in study design and previous clinical research on entry site, a randomized controlled trial is necessary before treatment recommendations can be made.

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John R. W. Kestle, Richard Holubkov, D. Douglas Cochrane, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, David D. Limbrick Jr., Thomas G. Luerssen, W. Jerry Oakes, Jay Riva-Cambrin, Curtis Rozzelle, Tamara D. Simon, Marion L. Walker, John C. Wellons III, Samuel R. Browd, James M. Drake, Chevis N. Shannon, Mandeep S. Tamber, William E. Whitehead and The Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network


In a previous report by the same research group (Kestle et al., 2011), compliance with an 11-step protocol was shown to reduce CSF shunt infection at Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network (HCRN) centers (from 8.7% to 5.7%). Antibiotic-impregnated catheters (AICs) were not part of the protocol but were used off protocol by some surgeons. The authors therefore began using a new protocol that included AICs in an effort to reduce the infection rate further.


The new protocol was implemented at HCRN centers on January 1, 2012, for all shunt procedures (excluding external ventricular drains [EVDs], ventricular reservoirs, and subgaleal shunts). Procedures performed up to September 30, 2013, were included (21 months). Compliance with the protocol and outcome events up to March 30, 2014, were recorded. The definition of infection was unchanged from the authors' previous report.


A total of 1935 procedures were performed on 1670 patients at 8 HCRN centers. The overall infection rate was 6.0% (95% CI 5.1%–7.2%). Procedure-specific infection rates varied (insertion 5.0%, revision 5.4%, insertion after EVD 8.3%, and insertion after treatment of infection 12.6%). Full compliance with the protocol occurred in 77% of procedures. The infection rate was 5.0% after compliant procedures and 8.7% after noncompliant procedures (p = 0.005). The infection rate when using this new protocol (6.0%, 95% CI 5.1%–7.2%) was similar to the infection rate observed using the authors' old protocol (5.7%, 95% CI 4.6%–7.0%).


CSF shunt procedures performed in compliance with a new infection prevention protocol at HCRN centers had a lower infection rate than noncompliant procedures. Implementation of the new protocol (including AICs) was associated with a 6.0% infection rate, similar to the infection rate of 5.7% from the authors' previously reported protocol. Based on the current data, the role of AICs compared with other infection prevention measures is unclear.

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William E. Whitehead, Jay Riva-Cambrin, John C. Wellons III, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Samuel Browd, David Limbrick, Curtis Rozzelle, Mandeep S. Tamber, Tamara D. Simon, Chevis N. Shannon, Richard Holubkov, W. Jerry Oakes, Thomas G. Luerssen, Marion L. Walker, James M. Drake and John R. W. Kestle


Shunt survival may improve when ventricular catheters are placed into the frontal horn or trigone of the lateral ventricle. However, techniques for accurate catheter placement have not been developed. The authors recently reported a prospective study designed to test the accuracy of catheter placement with the assistance of intraoperative ultrasound, but the results were poor (accurate placement in 59%). A major reason for the poor accurate placement rate was catheter movement that occurred between the time of the intraoperative ultrasound image and the first postoperative scan (33% of cases). The control group of non–ultrasound using surgeons also had a low rate of accurate placement (accurate placement in 49%). The authors conducted an exploratory post hoc analysis of patients in their ultrasound study to identify factors associated with either catheter movement or poor catheter placement so that improved surgical techniques for catheter insertion could be developed.


The authors investigated the following risk factors for catheter movement and poor catheter placement: age, ventricular size, cortical mantle thickness, surgeon experience, surgeon experience with ultrasound prior to trial, shunt entry site, shunt hardware at entry site, ventricular catheter length, and use of an ultrasound probe guide for catheter insertion. Univariate analysis followed by multivariate logistic regression models were used to determine which factors were independent risk factors for either catheter movement or inaccurate catheter location.


In the univariate analyses, only age < 6 months was associated with catheter movement (p = 0.021); cortical mantle thickness < 1 cm was near-significant (p = 0.066). In a multivariate model, age remained significant after adjusting for cortical mantle thickness (OR 8.35, exact 95% CI 1.20–infinity). Univariate analyses of factors associated with inaccurate catheter placement showed that age < 6 months (p = 0.001) and a posterior shunt entry site (p = 0.021) were both associated with poor catheter placement. In a multivariate model, both age < 6 months and a posterior shunt entry site were independent risk factors for poor catheter placement (OR 4.54, 95% CI 1.80–11.42, and OR 2.59, 95% CI 1.14–5.89, respectively).


Catheter movement and inaccurate catheter placement are both more likely to occur in young patients (< 6 months). Inaccurate catheter placement is also more likely to occur in cases involving a posterior shunt entry site than those involving an anterior shunt entry site. Future clinical studies aimed at improving shunt placement techniques must consider the effects of young age and choice of entry site on catheter location.