Neuroendoscopic surgery is being used as an alternative to traditional shunt surgery and craniotomy in the management of hydrocephalus and intracranial fluid-filled cavities. In this study, the authors evaluated the incidence and type of complications occurring after neuroendoscopic procedures that were performed in a consecutive series of pediatric patients at a single institution to determine the effectiveness of neuroendoscopy in such patients.
Four hundred ninety-five neuroendoscopic procedures were consecutively performed in 450 pediatric patients at one institution over a 10-year period. Charts were retrospectively reviewed. A complication was defined as follows: 1) any postoperative neurological deficit that was not observed before surgery; 2) any event occurring during surgery that resulted in the procedure being aborted; or 3) any adverse event occurring within 7 days postsurgery that resulted in a modification of the normal postoperative care. However, headache, vomiting, and fever without cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pleocytosis were not considered complications.
Complications were observed in 40 (8.1%) of 495 procedures. Two patients had two complications. One patient died of diffuse brain edema following endoscopic biopsy sampling of a basal ganglia tumor (mortality rate 0.2%). Other complications observed were abandonment of the procedure in eight cases, CSF leakage in 11 (with associated wound infection in one), intraventricular hemorrhage in six (with external drainage needed in four), intraparenchymal hemorrhage in three, subdural collection in eight (with subdural–peritoneal shunt placement needed in seven), transient oculomotor palsy in two, and transient hemiparesis in one.
Many complications can be avoided by determining the correct diagnosis and using suitable techniques and instruments. Most complications can be managed conservatively and do not produce long-term morbidity. Complex procedures in most patients and simple procedures in patients with preoperative risk factors carry the highest hazard. Every attempt should be made to optimize the surgical technique. The most serious and potentially the most lethal complication remains arterial bleeding from injury to the basilar artery complex.