The aim of the study was to analyze the outcome of surgical treatment for posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus in premature infants.
From 1990 to 2006, 32 premature infants underwent surgical treatment for posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus, and their charts were retrospectively reviewed to analyze the complications and outcome with respect to shunt revisions. Multivariate analysis and time series were used to identify factors that influence the outcome in terms of shunt revisions.
The mean gestational age was 27 ± 3.3 weeks, and mean birth weight was 1192 ± 660 g. Temporary reservoir placement was performed in 15 patients, while 17 underwent permanent CSF diversion with a ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt. In 2 patients, reservoir tapping alone was sufficient to halt the progression of hydrocephalus; 29 patients received VP shunts. The mean follow-up period was 37.3 months. The neonates who received VP shunts first were significantly older (p = 0.02) and heavier (p = 0.04) than those who initially underwent reservoir placement. Shunts were revised in 14 patients; 42% of patients in the reservoir group had their shunts revised, while 53% of infants who had initially received a VP shunt required a revision. The revision rate per patient in the reservoir group was half that in the direct VP shunt group (p = 0.027). No patient in the reservoir group had > 2 revisions. Shunt infections developed in 3 patients (10.3%), and 2 patients in the reservoir group died of nonneurological issues related to prematurity.
Birth weight and age are useful parameters in decision making. Preterm neonates with low birth weights benefit from initial CSF drainage procedures followed by permanent CSF diversion with respect to the number of shunt revisions.