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Endoscopic third ventriculostomy in children: prospective, multicenter results from the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network

Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Jay Riva-Cambrin, Richard Holubkov, Samuel R. Browd, D. Douglas Cochrane, James M. Drake, David D. Limbrick, Curtis J. Rozzelle, Tamara D. Simon, Mandeep S. Tamber, John C. Wellons III, William E. Whitehead, John R. W. Kestle, and for the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network


Endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) is now established as a viable treatment option for a subgroup of children with hydrocephalus. Here, the authors report prospective, multicenter results from the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network (HCRN) to provide the most accurate determination of morbidity, complication incidence, and efficacy of ETV in children and to determine if intraoperative predictors of ETV success add substantially to preoperative predictors.


All children undergoing a first ETV (without choroid plexus cauterization) at 1 of 7 HCRN centers up to June 2013 were included in the study and followed up for a minimum of 18 months. Data, including detailed intraoperative data, were prospectively collected as part of the HCRN's Core Data Project and included details of patient characteristics, ETV failure (need for repeat hydrocephalus surgery), and, in a subset of patients, postoperative complications up to the time of discharge.


Three hundred thirty-six eligible children underwent initial ETV, 18.8% of whom had undergone shunt placement prior to the ETV. The median age at ETV was 6.9 years (IQR 1.7–12.6), with 15.2% of the study cohort younger than 12 months of age. The most common etiologies were aqueductal stenosis (24.8%) and midbrain or tectal lesions (21.2%). Visible forniceal injury (16.6%) was more common than previously reported, whereas severe bleeding (1.8%), thalamic contusion (1.8%), venous injury (1.5%), hypothalamic contusion (1.5%), and major arterial injury (0.3%) were rare. The most common postoperative complications were CSF leak (4.4%), hyponatremia (3.9%), and pseudomeningocele (3.9%). New neurological deficit occurred in 1.5% cases, with 0.5% being permanent.

One hundred forty-one patients had documented failure of their ETV requiring repeat hydrocephalus surgery during follow-up, 117 of them during the first 6 months postprocedure. Kaplan-Meier rates of 30-day, 90-day, 6-month, 1-year, and 2-year failure-free survival were 73.7%, 66.7%, 64.8%, 61.7%, and 57.8%, respectively. According to multivariate modeling, the preoperative ETV Success Score (ETVSS) was associated with ETV success (p < 0.001), as was the intraoperative ability to visualize a “naked” basilar artery (p = 0.023).


The authors' documented experience represents the most detailed account of ETV results in North America and provides the most accurate picture to date of ETV success and complications, based on contemporaneously collected prospective data. Serious complications with ETV are low. In addition to the ETVSS, visualization of a naked basilar artery is predictive of ETV success.

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Risk factors for shunt malfunction in pediatric hydrocephalus: a multicenter prospective cohort study

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


The rate of CSF shunt failure remains unacceptably high. The Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network (HCRN) conducted a comprehensive prospective observational study of hydrocephalus management, the aim of which was to isolate specific risk factors for shunt failure.


The study followed all first-time shunt insertions in children younger than 19 years at 6 HCRN centers. The HCRN Investigator Committee selected, a priori, 21 variables to be examined, including clinical, radiographic, and shunt design variables. Shunt failure was defined as shunt revision, subsequent endoscopic third ventriculostomy, or shunt infection. Important a priori–defined risk factors as well as those significant in univariate analyses were then tested for independence using multivariate Cox proportional hazard modeling.


A total of 1036 children underwent initial CSF shunt placement between April 2008 and December 2011. Of these, 344 patients experienced shunt failure, including 265 malfunctions and 79 infections. The mean and median length of follow-up for the entire cohort was 400 days and 264 days, respectively. The Cox model found that age younger than 6 months at first shunt placement (HR 1.6 [95% CI 1.1–2.1]), a cardiac comorbidity (HR 1.4 [95% CI 1.0–2.1]), and endoscopic placement (HR 1.9 [95% CI 1.2–2.9]) were independently associated with reduced shunt survival. The following had no independent associations with shunt survival: etiology, payer, center, valve design, valve programmability, the use of ultrasound or stereotactic guidance, and surgeon experience and volume.


This is the largest prospective study reported on children with CSF shunts for hydrocephalus. It confirms that a young age and the use of the endoscope are risk factors for first shunt failure and that valve type has no impact. A new risk factor—an existing cardiac comorbidity—was also associated with shunt failure.