Ventricular shunts have an unacceptably high failure rate, which approaches 50% of patients at 2 years. Most shunt failures are related to ventricular catheter obstruction. The literature suggests that obstructions are caused by in-growth of choroid plexus and/or reactive cellular aggregation. The authors report endoscopic evidence of overdrainage-related ventricular tissue protrusions (“ependymal bands”) that cause partial or complete obstruction of the ventricular catheter.
A retrospective review was completed on patients undergoing shunt revision surgery between 2008 and 2015, identifying all cases in which the senior author reported endoscopic evidence of ependymal tissue in-growth into ventricular catheters. Detailed clinical, radiological, and surgical findings are described.
Fifty patients underwent 83 endoscopic shunt revision procedures that revealed in-growth of ventricular wall tissue into the catheter tip orifices (ependymal bands), producing partial, complete, or intermittent shunt obstructions. Endoscopic ventricular explorations revealed ependymal bands at various stages of development, which appear to form secondarily to siphoning. Ependymal bands are associated with small ventricles when the shunt is functional, but may dilate at the time of obstruction.
Ventricular wall protrusions are a significant cause of proximal shunt obstruction, and they appear to be caused by siphoning of surrounding tissue into the ventricular catheter orifices.