Up to one-third of patients with a posterior fossa brain tumor (PFBT) will experience persistent hydrocephalus mandating permanent CSF diversion. The optimal hydrocephalus treatment modality is unknown; the authors sought to compare the durability between endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) and ventriculoperitoneal shunt (VPS) therapy in the pediatric population.
The authors conducted a systematic review of articles indexed in PubMed between 1986 and 2016 describing ETV and/or VPS treatment success/failure and time-to-failure rate in patients < 19 years of age with hydrocephalus related to a PFBT. Additionally, the authors conducted a retrospective review of their institutional series of PFBT patients requiring CSF diversion. Patient data from the systematic review and from the institutional series were aggregated and a time-to-failure analysis was performed comparing ETV and VPS using the Kaplan-Meier method.
A total of 408 patients were included from 12 studies and the authors' institutional series: 284 who underwent ETV and 124 who underwent VPS placement. The analysis included uncontrolled studies with variable method and timing of CSF diversion and were subject to surgeon bias. No significant differences between cohorts were observed with regard to age, sex, tumor grade or histology, metastatic status, or extent of resection. The cumulative failure rate of ETV was 21%, whereas that of VPS surgery was 29% (p = 0.105). The median time to failure was earlier for ETV than for VPS surgery (0.82 [IQR 0.2–1.8] vs 4.7 months [IQR 0.3–5.7], p = 0.03). Initially the ETV survival curve dropped sharply and then stabilized around 2 months. The VPS curve fell gradually but eventually crossed below the ETV curve at 5.7 months. Overall, a significant survival advantage was not demonstrated for one procedure over the other (p = 0.21, log-rank). However, postoperative complications were higher following VPS (31%) than ETV (17%) (p = 0.012).
ETV failure occurred sooner than VPS failure, but long-term treatment durability may be higher for ETV. Complications occurred more commonly with VPS than with ETV. Limited clinical conclusions are drawn using this methodology; the optimal treatment for PFBT-related hydrocephalus warrants investigation through prospective studies.