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Editorial

Prediction, with restriction

Alan R. Cohen

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Abhaya V. Kulkarni, James M. Drake, John R. W. Kestle, Conor L. Mallucci, Spyros Sgouros and Shlomi Constantini

Object

The authors recently developed and internally validated the ETV Success Score (ETVSS)—a simplified means of predicting the 6-month success rate of endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) for a child with hydrocephalus, based on age, etiology of hydrocephalus, and presence of a previous shunt. A high ETVSS predicts a high chance of early ETV success. In this paper, they assess the clinical utility of the ETVSS by determining whether long-term survival outcomes for ETV versus shunt insertion are different within strata of ETVSS (low, moderate, and high scores).

Methods

A multicenter, international cohort of children (≤ 19 years old) with newly diagnosed hydrocephalus treated with either ETV (489 patients) or shunt insertion (720 patients) was analyzed. The ETVSS was calculated for all patients. Survival analyses with time-dependent modeling of the hazard ratios were performed.

Results

For the High-ETVSS Group (255 ETV-treated patients, 117 shunt-treated patients), ETV appeared to have a lower risk of failure right from the early postoperative phase and became more favorable with time. For the Moderate-ETVSS Group (172 ETV-treated patients, 245 shunt-treated patients), ETV appeared to have a higher initial failure rate, but after about 3 months the instantaneous risk of ETV failure became slightly lower than shunt failure (that is, the hazard ratio became < 1). For the Low-ETVSS Group (62 ETV-treated patients, 358 shunt-treated patients), the early risk of ETV failure was much higher than the risk of shunt failure, but the instantaneous risk of ETV failure became lower than the risk of shunt failure at about 6 months following surgery (the hazard ratio became < 1).

Conclusions

Across all ETVSS strata, the risk of ETV failure becomes progressively lower compared with the risk of shunt failure with increasing time from the surgery. In the best ETV candidates (ETVSS ≥ 80), however, the risk of ETV failure is lower than the risk of shunt failure very soon after surgery, while for less-than-ideal ETV candidates (ETVSS ≤ 70), the risk of ETV failure is initially higher than the risk of shunt failure and only becomes lower after 3–6 months from surgery. These results need to be confirmed by larger, prospective, and preferably randomized studies.