Postoperative shunt infection is the most common and feared complication of ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt placement for treatment of hydrocephalus. The rate of shunt infection is highest in the 1st postoperative month. The most common organisms responsible for shunt infection include coagulase-negative Staphylococcus and Staphylococcus aureus. This suggests a transfer of patient's skin flora via the surgeons' glove as a possible means of infection. The authors conducted a study to determine if the rate of postoperative shunt infections could be reduced simply by changing gloves before handling the shunt catheter.
A total of 111 neonates born with congenital hydrocephalus requiring a VP shunt were enrolled retrospectively and divided into 2 groups: a control group of 54 neonates treated with standard protocol VP shunt placement (Group A) and a treatment group of 57 neonates in whom, after initially double gloving, the outer pair of gloves was removed before handling the shunt catheter (Group B). Shunt infection rates were compared up to 6 months postoperatively.
There was a statistically significant reduction of infection rate from 16.33% in Group A (control) to 3.77% in Group B (p = 0.0458).
The study shows that a changing of gloves before handling the shunt catheter may be a simple and cost-effective way to reduce the burden of postoperative shunt infections.
Abbreviation used in this paper:VP = ventriculoperitoneal.
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