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Daniel M. Sciubba, Li-Mei Lin, Graeme F. Woodworth, Matthew J. McGirt, Benjamin Carson, and George I. Jallo


Antibiotic-impregnated shunt (AIS) systems may decrease the incidence of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) shunt infections. However, there is a reluctance to use AIS components because of their increased cost. In the present study the authors evaluated factors contributing to the medical costs associated with the treatment of CSF shunt infections in a hydrocephalic pediatric population, those implanted with AIS systems compared with those implanted with standard shunt systems.


The authors retrospectively reviewed data obtained in all pediatric patients who had undergone CSF shunt insertion at their institution over a 3-year period. All patients were followed up for 12 months after surgery. The independent association between AIS catheter use and subsequent shunt infection was assessed by performing a multivariate proportional hazards regression analysis. Factors contributing to the medical costs associated with shunt infection were evaluated.


Two hundred eleven pediatric patients underwent 353 shunting procedures. Two hundred eight shunts (59%) were placed with nonimpregnated catheters and 145 shunts (41%) were placed with AIS catheters. Twenty-five patients (12%) with non-AIS catheters experienced shunt infection, whereas only two patients (1.4%) with AIS catheters had a shunt infection within the 6-month follow-up period (p < 0.01). Among infected patients, infected patients with standard shunt components had a longer average hospital stay, more inpatient complications related to infection treatment, and more multiple organism infections and multiple antibiotic regimens, compared with those with AIS components.


Although individual AIS components are more expensive than standard ones, factors contributing to medical costs are fewer in pediatric patients with infected shunts when the components are antibiotic-impregnated rather than standard.