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Lee A. Tan, Manish K. Kasliwal, Roham Moftakhar and Lorenzo F. Munoz

Small-bowel ischemia and necrosis due to knotting of the peritoneal catheter is an extremely rare complication related to a ventriculoperitoneal shunt (VPS). A 3-month-old girl, with a history of Chiari II malformation and myelomeningocele (MM) after undergoing right occipital VPS insertion and MM repair at birth, presented to the emergency department with a high-grade fever. Examination of a CSF sample obtained via shunt tap raised suspicion for the presence of infection. Antibiotic therapy was initiated, and subsequently the VPS was removed and an external ventricular drain was placed. Intraoperatively, as attempts at pulling the distal catheter from the scalp incision were met with resistance, the distal catheter was cut and left in the abdomen while the remainder of the shunt system was successfully removed. While the patient was awaiting definitive shunt revision surgery to replace the VPS, she developed abdominal distension due to small-bowel obstruction. An emergency exploratory laparotomy revealed a knot in the distal catheter looping around and strangulating the distal ileum, causing small-bowel ischemia and necrosis in addition to the obstruction. A small-bowel resection with ileostomy was performed, with subsequent placement of ventriculoatrial shunt for treatment of hydrocephalus. The authors report this exceedingly rare clinical scenario to highlight the fact that any retained distal catheter must be carefully managed with immediate abdominal exploration to remove the distal catheter to avoid bowel necrosis as pulling of a knotted peritoneal catheter may strangulate the bowel and cause ischemia, with significant clinical morbidity and possible mortality.

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Ricardo B. V. Fontes, Adam P. Smith, Lorenzo F. Muñoz, Richard W. Byrne and Vincent C. Traynelis


Early postoperative head CT scanning is routinely performed following intracranial procedures for detection of complications, but its real value remains uncertain: so-called abnormal results are frequently found, but active, emergency intervention based on these findings may be rare. The authors' objective was to analyze whether early postoperative CT scans led to emergency surgical interventions and if the results of neurological examination predicted this occurrence.


The authors retrospectively analyzed 892 intracranial procedures followed by an early postoperative CT scan performed over a 1-year period at Rush University Medical Center and classified these cases according to postoperative neurological status: baseline, predicted neurological change, unexpected neurological change, and sedated or comatose. The interpretation of CT results was reviewed and unexpected CT findings were classified based on immediate action taken: Type I, additional observation and CT; Type II, active nonsurgical intervention; and Type III, surgical intervention. Results were compared between neurological examination groups with the Fisher exact test.


Patients with unexpected neurological changes or in the sedated or comatose group had significantly more unexpected findings on the postoperative CT (p < 0.001; OR 19.2 and 2.3, respectively) and Type II/III interventions (p < 0.001) than patients at baseline. Patients at baseline or with expected neurological changes still had a rate of Type II/III changes in the 2.2%–2.4% range; however, no patient required an immediate return to the operating room.


Over a 1-year period in an academic neurosurgery service, no patient who was neurologically intact or who had a predicted neurological change required an immediate return to the operating room based on early postoperative CT findings. Obtaining early CT scans should not be a priority in these patients and may even be cancelled in favor of MRI studies, if the latter have already been planned and can be performed safely and in a timely manner. Early postoperative CT scanning does not assure an uneventful course, nor should it replace accurate and frequent neurological checks, because operative interventions were always decided in conjunction with the neurological examination.