External ventricular drains (EVDs) are regularly used in pediatric neurosurgery for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. Hemorrhage caused by placing an EVD is a common complication noted in the adult literature. In the pediatric literature, on the other hand, only a few articles have assessed the risk of hemorrhage with placement, and none have reported the occurrence of hemorrhage with removal of an EVD. The authors investigated the incidence of hemorrhage with both placement and removal of the EVD in a pediatric population.
After obtaining institutional review board approval, a comprehensive database was created to include all pediatric patients who required EVD placement between March 2008 and June 2014 at the authors’ institution. A retrospective chart review was completed, and all imaging was reviewed for evidence of hemorrhage with placement and removal of the EVD.
During the designated time period, 73 EVDs were placed in 63 patients (ages 2 weeks–17 years). Indications for EVD placement were as follows: shunt infection/malfunction (21), tumor (12), hydrocephalus (18), hemorrhage (12), edema (4), trauma (1), and other (5). Hemorrhage with placement was noted in 5 of the 50 patients who underwent imaging, with a volume ranging from 0.48 cm3 to 7.7 cm3. Thirty-two patients had imaging after EVD removal, and 7 of these patients were noted to have hemorrhage (volume range 0.012 cm3 to 81.5 cm3).
The authors found the incidence of hemorrhage at EVD placement to be 10%, and the incidence of hemorrhage on EVD removal to be 21.9% in those patients who underwent imaging after each event. Although none of the hemorrhages were of obvious clinical significance, these data can be useful in decision making, and in discussing the risks of EVDs with the patient’s family.