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  • Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics x
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John C. Wellons III, Chevis N. Shannon, Richard Holubkov, Jay Riva-Cambrin, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, David D. Limbrick Jr., William Whitehead, Samuel Browd, Curtis Rozzelle, Tamara D. Simon, Mandeep S. Tamber, W. Jerry Oakes, James Drake, Thomas G. Luerssen, John Kestle and For the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network


Previous Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network (HCRN) retrospective studies have shown a 15% difference in rates of conversion to permanent shunts with the use of ventriculosubgaleal shunts (VSGSs) versus ventricular reservoirs (VRs) as temporization procedures in the treatment of hydrocephalus due to high-grade intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) of prematurity. Further research in the same study line revealed a strong influence of center-specific decision-making on shunt outcomes. The primary goal of this prospective study was to standardize decision-making across centers to determine true procedural superiority, if any, of VSGS versus VR as a temporization procedure in high-grade IVH of prematurity.


The HCRN conducted a prospective cohort study across 6 centers with an approximate 1.5- to 3-year accrual period (depending on center) followed by 6 months of follow-up. Infants with premature birth, who weighed less than 1500 g, had Grade 3 or 4 IVH of prematurity, and had more than 72 hours of life expectancy were included in the study. Based on a priori consensus, decisions were standardized regarding the timing of initial surgical treatment, upfront shunt versus temporization procedure (VR or VSGS), and when to convert a VR or VSGS to a permanent shunt. Physical examination assessment and surgical technique were also standardized. The primary outcome was the proportion of infants who underwent conversion to a permanent shunt. The major secondary outcomes of interest included infection and other complication rates.


One hundred forty-five premature infants were enrolled and met criteria for analysis. Using the standardized decision rubrics, 28 infants never reached the threshold for treatment, 11 initially received permanent shunts, 4 were initially treated with endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV), and 102 underwent a temporization procedure (36 with VSGSs and 66 with VRs). The 2 temporization cohorts were similar in terms of sex, race, IVH grade, head (orbitofrontal) circumference, and ventricular size at temporization. There were statistically significant differences noted between groups in gestational age, birth weight, and bilaterality of clot burden that were controlled for in post hoc analysis. By Kaplan-Meier analysis, the 180-day rates of conversion to permanent shunts were 63.5% for VSGS and 74.0% for VR (p = 0.36, log-rank test). The infection rate for VSGS was 14% (5/36) and for VR was 17% (11/66; p = 0.71). The overall compliance rate with the standardized decision rubrics was noted to be 90% for all surgeons.


A standardized protocol was instituted across all centers of the HCRN. Compliance was high. Choice of temporization techniques in premature infants with IVH does not appear to influence rates of conversion to permanent ventricular CSF diversion. Once management decisions and surgical techniques are standardized across HCRN sites, thus minimizing center effect, the observed difference in conversion rates between VSGSs and VRs is mitigated.

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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.