✓ The purpose of this study was to determine the significance of “asymptomatic bacteriological shunt contamination” (ABSC), defined as a positive bacteriological culture found on a ventricular shunt component in the absence of bacteria in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) culture and/or clinical evidence of infection.
Of 174 ventriculoperitoneal shunt revisions, 19 cases of ABSC were identified and reviewed retrospectively. In all but one case, no antibiotic medications were instituted because of the positive bacteriological culture. The most common infecting organisms were coagulase-negative staphylococci (seven) and propionibacteria (eight). A comparison of the 19 study cases with the authors' overall shunt experience, as documented in the British Columbia's Children's Hospital shunt database for the time period of the study, lead the authors to suggest that ABSC was not of significance in causing the shunt failure at which contamination was identified and, more importantly, did not increase the risk of future shunt malfunction.
The results of this study indicate that in the absence of clinical evidence of shunt infection or a positive bacteriological culture from CSF, bacteria in a shunt component removed at revision in a child almost always represents a contaminant that may be ignored. Therefore, the authors advise that routine culture of shunt components removed at revision of a shunt is not indicated.