Although ventricular shunting is an effective therapy for idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus (iNPH), the effect of shunt valve type on the incidence of revision surgery is not well defined. To address this issue, shunt revision rates between patients with iNPH receiving a fixed-setting valve (FSV) versus a programmable valve (PV) were compared.
Patients with iNPH treated with ventricular shunting between 2001 and 2017 were included for analysis. The incidence of shunt revision was noted and risk factors for revision were identified using a Cox proportional hazards model. Costs associated with admission for ventricular shunt procedures were obtained from the Vizient national database.
There were 348 patients included for analysis, with 98 patients (28.1%) receiving a PV. Shunt revision occurred in 73 patients (21.0%), with 12 patients (3.4%) undergoing multiple revisions. Overall revision rates were lower in patients receiving a PV (13.3% vs 24.0%; p = 0.027), as was the incidence of multiple revisions (0.0% vs 4.8%; p = 0.023). Patients with initial placement of an FSV were also more likely to undergo valve exchange during follow-up (12.4% vs 2.0%; p = 0.003). Patients with a PV were less likely to undergo revision due to persistent symptoms without obstruction (2.0% vs 8.8%; p = 0.031) and distal obstruction (1.0% vs 6.8%; p = 0.030). In a multivariate Cox proportional hazards model, initial placement of a PV was associated with reduced risk of revision due to persistent symptoms without obstruction (OR 0.27, 95% CI 0.04–0.93; p = 0.036). PVs were associated with more frequent shunt series (1.3 vs 0.6; p < 0.001) and head CT scans (3.6 vs 2.7; p = 0.038) during follow-up. There was no significant difference in mean total costs between patients receiving an FSV and a PV ($24,282.50 vs $24,396.90; p = 0.937).
The authors’ results suggest that PVs lead to reduced rates of shunt revision in patients with iNPH, and decreased risk of revision due to persistent symptoms of iNPH, thereby justifying the higher upfront cost of PVs despite similar overall treatment costs between these devices.