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Andrew Erwood, Rima S. Rindler, Mustafa Motiwala, Sonia Ajmera, Brandy Vaughn, Paul Klimo Jr., and Joshua J. Chern


There are many known complications associated with CSF shunts. One of the more rare ones is a sterile abdominal pseudocyst due to decreased peritoneal absorption. This study was undertaken to detail the presentation, evaluation, and management of this unusual shunt-related event.


Patients presenting with ventriculoperitoneal shunt (VPS)–related sterile abdominal pseudocysts treated at two institutions between 2013 and 2018 were included. Patients who had undergone abdominal surgery or shunt revisions within a 12-month period preceding presentation were excluded. Information was collected regarding clinical characteristics; hospital course, including surgical intervention(s); and any subsequent complications. Special attention was given to the eventual surgery after pseudocyst resolution, including the use of laparoscopy for peritoneal catheter placement, distal shunt conversion (i.e., in the atrium or pleural cavity), endoscopic third ventriculostomy, or shunt removal. The timing and nature of any subsequent shunt failures were also noted.


Twenty-eight patients met the study criteria, with a mean age of 10 years. The most common etiology of hydrocephalus was intraventricular hemorrhage of prematurity. All shunts were externalized at presentation. One shunt was removed without subsequent internalization. Distal catheters were re-internalized back into the peritoneal cavity in 11 patients (laparoscopy was used in 8 cases). Fourteen shunts were converted to a ventriculoatrial shunt (VAS), and two to a ventriculopleural (VPlS). Two VPSs failed due to a recurrent pseudocyst. The total all-cause failure rates at 1 year were as follows: 18% for VPSs and 50% for VASs.


Following treatment of a VPS-related sterile abdominal pseudocyst, laparoscopy-assisted placement of the distal catheter in the peritoneum is a viable and safe option for select patients, compared to a VAS or VPlS.