Cerebrospinal fluid diversion via ventricular shunting is a common surgical treatment for hydrocephalus in the pediatric population. No longitudinal follow-up data for a multistate population-based cohort of pediatric patients undergoing ventricular shunting in the United States have been published. In the current review of a nationwide population-based data set, the authors aimed to assess rates of shunt failure and hospital readmission in pediatric patients undergoing new ventricular shunt placement. They also review patient- and hospital-level factors associated with shunt failure and readmission.
Included in this study was a population-based sample of pediatric patients with hydrocephalus who, in 2010–2014, had undergone new ventricular shunt placement and had sufficient follow-up, as recorded in the Nationwide Readmissions Database. The authors analyzed the rate of revision within 6 months, readmission rates at 30 and 90 days, and potential factors associated with shunt failure including patient- and hospital-level variables and type of hydrocephalus.
A total of 3520 pediatric patients had undergone initial ventriculoperitoneal shunt placement for hydrocephalus at an index admission. Twenty percent of these patients underwent shunt revision within 6 months. The median time to revision was 44.5 days. Eighteen percent of the patients were readmitted within 30 days and 31% were readmitted within 90 days. Different-hospital readmissions were rare, occurring in ≤ 6% of readmissions. Increased hospital volume was not protective against readmission or shunt revision. Patients with grade 3 or 4 intraventricular hemorrhage were more likely to have shunt malfunctions. Patients who had private insurance and who were treated at a large hospital were less likely to be readmitted.
In a nationwide, population-based database with longitudinal follow-up, shunt failure and readmission were common. Although patient and hospital factors were associated with readmission and shunt failure, system-wide phenomena such as insufficient centralization of care and fragmentation of care were not observed. Efforts to reduce readmissions in pediatric patients undergoing ventricular shunt procedures should focus on coordinating care in patients with complex neurological diseases and on reducing healthcare disparities associated with readmission.