Ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt infections are common complications after shunt operations. Despite the use of intravenous antibiotics, the incidence of infections remains high. Though antibiotic-impregnated catheters (AICs) are commonly used, another method of infection prophylaxis is the use of intraventricular (IVT) antibiotics. The authors describe their single-institution experience with a standard shunt protocol utilizing prophylactic IVT and topical vancomycin administration and report the incidence of pediatric shunt infections.
Three hundred two patients undergoing VP shunt procedures with IVT and topical vancomycin between 2006 and 2016 were included. Patients were excluded if their age at surgery was greater than 18 years. Shunt operations were performed at a single institution following a standard shunt protocol implementing IVT and topical vancomycin. No AICs were used. Clinical data were retrospectively collected from the electronic health records.
Over the 11-year study period, 593 VP shunt operations were performed with IVT and topical vancomycin, and a total of 19 infections occurred (incidence 3.2% per procedure). The majority of infections (n = 10, 52.6%) were caused by Staphylococcus epidermidis. The median time to shunt infection was 3.7 weeks. On multivariate analysis, the presence of a CSF leak (OR 31.5 [95% CI 8.8–112.6]) and age less than 6 months (OR 3.6 [95% CI 1.2–10.7]) were statistically significantly associated with the development of a shunt infection. A post hoc analysis comparing infection rates after procedures that adhered to the shunt protocol and those that did not administer IVT and topical vancomycin, plus historical controls, revealed a difference in infection rates (3.2% vs 6.9%, p = 0.03).
The use of a standardized shunt operation technique that includes IVT and topical vancomycin is associated with a total shunt infection incidence of 3.2% per procedure, which compares favorably with the reported rates of shunt infection in the literature. The majority of infections occurred within 2 months of surgery and the most common causative organism was S. epidermidis. Young age (< 6 months) at the time of surgery and the presence of a postoperative CSF leak were statistically significantly associated with postoperative shunt infection on multivariate analysis. The results are hypothesis generating, and the authors propose that IVT and topical administration of vancomycin as part of a standardized shunt operation protocol may be an appropriate option for preventing pediatric shunt infections.