Ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt surgery is the most common treatment for hydrocephalus. In certain situations, uncommon complications can occur after shunting procedures. The authors undertook this study to analyze the clinical characteristics of pediatric patients who developed multifocal intraparenchymal hemorrhages (MIPHs) as a complication of shunt surgery. The authors also analyzed the risk factors for MIPH in a large cohort of patients with hydrocephalus.
This study included all pediatric patients (age < 18 years) who underwent VP shunt surgery at the authors' institution between January 2001 and December 2012. During this period, 507 VP shunt operations were performed in 330 patients. Four of these patients were subsequently diagnosed as having MIPH. The authors analyzed the clinical characteristics of these patients in comparison with those of the entire group of shunt-treated patients.
The incidence of MIPH was 1.2% (4 of 330 cases) for all pediatric patients who underwent VP shunt placement but 2.9% (4 of 140 cases) for infants less than 1 year old. When the analysis was limited to patients whose corrected age was less than 3 months, the incidence was 5.3% (4 of 76 cases). Of the 4 patients with MIPH, 2 were male and 2 were female. Their median age at surgery was 54 days (range 25–127 days), and in all 4 cases, the patients' corrected age was less than 1 month. Three patients were preterm infants, whereas one patient was full-term. None of these patients had a prior history of intracranial surgery (including CSF diversion procedures). All showed severe hydrocephalus during the preoperative period. Their clinical courses as patients with MIPH were comparatively favorable, despite the radiological findings.
MIPH is a rare but not negligible complication of VP shunt surgery. This complication might be a unique phenomenon in infants, especially young, preterm infants with severe hydrocephalus. Moreover, the absence of previous intracranial procedures might be one of the risk factors for this complication. The rapid alteration of brain conditions in the setting of immaturity might cause MIPH. To prevent this complication, the authors recommend that pressure settings of programmable valves should be gradually adapted to the target pressure.