Have we made progress in preventing shunt failure? A critical analysis

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Object

The goal of this study was to determine whether failure rates of hydrocephalus shunts have fallen over the years as a result of experience or technical improvements.

Methods

A structured search was performed of the English language literature for case series reporting failure rates after shunt insertion. A metaanalytic model was constructed to pool data from multiple studies and to analyze failure rates statistically for temporal trends. Separate models were used for children (< 17 years old) and adults.

Results

In children, the shunt failure rate was 31.3% for the 1st year and 4.5% per year thereafter. There were no significant changes in either rate over time. Although 1st-year failure rates in adults have fallen slightly over time, late failure rates have risen.

Conclusions

Progress in preventing shunt failures has not been made over the last several decades. Any improvements made in shunt materials or insertion techniques have been overshadowed by biological and other factors.

Article Information

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to: Sherman C. Stein, M.D., Department of Neurosurgery, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 310 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106. email: sherman.stein@uphs.upenn.edu.

© AANS, except where prohibited by US copyright law.

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