Ventriculopleural shunts in a pediatric population: a review of 170 consecutive patients

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  • 1 Department of Neurological Surgery, Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Los Angeles;
  • | 2 Division of Neurosurgery, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles; and
  • | 3 Department of Neurological Surgery, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
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OBJECTIVE

The authors sought to determine the outcome of using the pleural space as the terminus for ventricular CSF-diverting shunts in a pediatric population.

METHODS

All ventriculopleural (VPl) shunt insertions or revisions done between 1978 and 2018 in patients at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles were identified. Data recorded for analysis were age, sex, weight, etiology of hydrocephalus, previous shunt history, reason for VPl shunt insertion or conversion from a ventriculoperitoneal (VP) or ventriculoatrial (VA) shunt, valve type, nature of malfunction, presence of shunt infection or pleural effusion, and conversion to a different distal site.

RESULTS

A total of 170 patients (mean age 14 ± 4 years) with a VPl shunt who were followed up for a mean of 57 ± 53 months were identified. The reasons for conversion to a VPl shunt for 167 patients were previous shunt infection in 57 (34%), multiple abdominal procedures in 44 (26%), inadequate absorption of CSF in 34 (20%), abdominal pseudocyst in 25 (15%), and obesity in 7 (4%). No VPl revisions were required in 97 (57%) patients. Of the 73 (43%) patients who did require revision, the most common reason was proximal obstruction in 32 (44%). The next most frequent complication was pleural effusion in 22 (30%) and included 3 patients with shunt infection. All 22 patients with a clinically significant pleural effusion required changing the distal end of the shunt from the pleural space. Pleural effusion was more likely to occur in VPl shunts without an antisiphon valve. Of the 29 children < 10 years old, 7 (24%) developed a pleural effusion requiring a revision of the distal catheter to outside the pleural space compared with 15 (11%) who were older (p = 0.049). There were 14 shunt infections with a rate of 4.2% per procedure and 8.2% per patient.

CONCLUSIONS

VPl shunts in children younger than 10 years of age have a significantly higher rate of symptomatic pleural effusion, requiring revision of the shunt’s terminus to a different location. VPl shunt complication rates are similar to those of VP shunts. The technical difficulty of inserting a VPl shunt is comparable to that of a VP shunt. In a patient older than 10 years, all else being equal, the authors recommend that the distal end of a shunt be placed into the pleural space rather than the right atrium if the peritoneal cavity is not suitable.

ABBREVIATIONS

VA = ventriculoatrial; VP = ventriculoperitoneal; VPl = ventriculopleural.

Image from Mavridis et al. (pp 404–415).

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