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Steven J. Schiff, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Edith Mbabazi-Kabachelor, John Mugamba, Peter Ssenyonga, Ruth Donnelly, Jody Levenbach, Vishal Monga, Mallory Peterson, Venkateswararao Cherukuri, and Benjamin C. Warf

OBJECTIVE

Hydrocephalus in infants, particularly that with a postinfectious etiology, is a major public health burden in Sub-Saharan Africa. The authors of this study aimed to determine whether surgical treatment of infant postinfectious hydrocephalus in Uganda results in sustained, long-term brain growth and improved cognitive outcome.

METHODS

The authors performed a trial at a single center in Mbale, Uganda, involving infants (age < 180 days old) with postinfectious hydrocephalus randomized to endoscopic third ventriculostomy plus choroid plexus cauterization (ETV+CPC; n = 51) or ventriculoperitoneal shunt (VPS; n = 49). After 2 years, they assessed developmental outcome with the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, Third Edition (BSID-III), and brain volume (raw and normalized for age and sex) with CT scans.

RESULTS

Eighty-nine infants were assessed for 2-year outcome. There were no significant differences between the two surgical treatment arms in terms of BSID-III cognitive score (p = 0.17) or brain volume (p = 0.36), so they were analyzed together. Raw brain volumes increased between baseline and 2 years (p < 0.001), but this increase occurred almost exclusively in the 1st year (p < 0.001). The fraction of patients with a normal brain volume increased from 15.2% at baseline to 50.0% at 1 year but then declined to 17.8% at 2 years. Substantial normalized brain volume loss was seen in 21.3% patients between baseline and year 2 and in 76.7% between years 1 and 2. The extent of brain growth in the 1st year was not associated with the extent of brain volume changes in the 2nd year. There were significant positive correlations between 2-year brain volume and all BSID-III scores and BSID-III changes from baseline.

CONCLUSIONS

In Sub-Saharan Africa, even after successful surgical treatment of infant postinfectious hydrocephalus, early posttreatment brain growth stagnates in the 2nd year. While the reasons for this finding are unclear, it further emphasizes the importance of primary infection prevention and mitigation strategies along with optimizing the child’s environment to maximize brain growth potential.

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Jessica R. Lane, Paddy Ssentongo, Mallory R. Peterson, Joshua R. Harper, Edith Mbabazi-Kabachelor, John Mugamba, Peter Ssenyonga, Justin Onen, Ruth Donnelly, Jody Levenbach, Venkateswararao Cherukuri, Vishal Monga, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Benjamin C. Warf, and Steven J. Schiff

OBJECTIVE

This study investigated the incidence of postoperative subdural collections in a cohort of African infants with postinfectious hydrocephalus. The authors sought to identify preoperative factors associated with increased risk of development of subdural collections and to characterize associations between subdural collections and postoperative outcomes.

METHODS

The study was a post hoc analysis of a randomized controlled trial at a single center in Mbale, Uganda, involving infants (age < 180 days) with postinfectious hydrocephalus randomized to receive either an endoscopic third ventriculostomy plus choroid plexus cauterization or a ventriculoperitoneal shunt. Patients underwent assessment with the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, Third Edition (Bayley-III; sometimes referred to as BSID-III) and CT scans preoperatively and then at 6, 12, and 24 months postoperatively. Volumes of brain, CSF, and subdural fluid were calculated, and z-scores from the median were determined from normative curves for CSF accumulation and brain growth. Linear and logistic regression models were used to characterize the association between preoperative CSF volume and the postoperative presence and size of subdural collection 6 and 12 months after surgery. Linear regression and smoothing spline ANOVA were used to describe the relationship between subdural fluid volume and cognitive scores. Causal mediation analysis distinguished between the direct and indirect effects of the presence of a subdural collection on cognitive scores.

RESULTS

Subdural collections were more common in shunt-treated patients and those with larger preoperative CSF volumes. Subdural fluid volumes were linearly related to preoperative CSF volumes. In terms of outcomes, the Bayley-III cognitive score was linearly related to subdural fluid volume. The distribution of cognitive scores was significantly different for patients with and those without subdural collections from 11 to 24 months of age. The presence of a subdural collection was associated with lower cognitive scores and smaller brain volume 12 months after surgery. Causal mediation analysis demonstrated evidence supporting both a direct (76%) and indirect (24%) effect (through brain volume) of subdural collections on cognitive scores.

CONCLUSIONS

Larger preoperative CSF volume and shunt surgery were found to be risk factors for postoperative subdural collection. The size and presence of a subdural collection were negatively associated with cognitive outcomes and brain volume 12 months after surgery. These results have suggested that preoperative CSF volumes could be used for risk stratification for treatment decision-making and that future clinical trials of alternative shunt technologies to reduce overdrainage should be considered.