✓ Long-term patency of the ventricular catheter of a cerebrospinal fluid shunt depends on the positioning of the hole-bearing segment of the catheter. Placement of this segment near the choroid plexus or injured ependyma increases the probability of obstruction. Proper positioning for a coronal shunt in turn depends on the ventricular catheter length and target coordinates. The authors describe a method of calculating the catheter length based on bone landmarks on skull radiographs, and a technique for accurate ventricular catheter placement using free-hand passage guided by simple stereotactic coordinates based on visible and palpable surface anatomy. The insertion trajectory is aligned with the coronal obliquity of the lateral ventricle so that, even with slit ventricles, the entire hole-bearing segment of the catheter can be reliably situated within the anterior horn. The predetermined catheter length also fixes the tip at the foramen of Monro, away from the choroid plexus and injured ependyma.
Of 160 children undergoing ventriculoperitoneal shunt insertion using this technique, only three required catheter revision during a mean follow-up period of 39 months. Radiographic grading of the ventricular catheter position in 112 children showed a satisfactory placement rate of 93.2%; all three children with occlusion showed poor catheter positioning. Thus, this method results in accurate ventricular catheter placement with a 1.9% obstruction rate, which compares favorably to the 16% to 18% incidence of proximal obstruction reported in the literature. This technique is applicable to patients of all ages but is particularly suitable for children because of the greater variability in head size.