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Lester Lee, Sharon Low, David Low, Lee Ping Ng, Colum Nolan, and Wan Tew Seow

OBJECTIVE

The introduction of ventriculoperitoneal shunts changed the way hydrocephalus was treated. Whereas much is known about the causes of shunt failure in the first few years, there is a paucity of data in the literature regarding the cause of late shunt failures. The authors conducted a study to find out the different causes of late shunt failures in their institution.

METHODS

A 10-year retrospective study of all the patients who were treated in the authors' hospital between 2006 and 2015 was conducted. Late shunt failures included those in patients who had to undergo shunt revision more than 5 years after their initial shunt insertion. The patient's notes and scans were reviewed to obtain the age and sex of the patient, the time it took for the shunt to fail, the reason for failure, and the patient's follow-up.

RESULTS

Forty-six patients in the authors' institution experienced 48 late shunt failures in the last 10 years. Their ages ranged from 7 to 26 years (12.23 ± 4.459 years [mean ± SD]). The time it took for the shunts to fail was between 6 and 24 years (mean 10.25 ± 3.77 years). Reasons for failure resulting in shunt revision include shunt fracture in 24 patients (50%), shunt blockage in 14 patients (29.2%), tract fibrosis in 6 patients (12.5%), shunt dislodgement in 2 patients (4.2%), and shunt erosion in 2 patients (4.2%). Postoperative follow-up for the patients ranged from 6 to 138 months (mean 45.15 ± 33.26 months).

CONCLUSIONS

Late shunt failure is caused by the effects of aging on the shunt, and the complications are different from early shunt failure. A large proportion are complications associated with shunt calcification. The authors advocate a long follow-up for pediatric patients with shunts in situ to monitor them for various causes of late shunt failure.

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Sharon Y. Y. Low, Catherine W. M. Ong, Po-Ren Hsueh, Paul Ananth Tambyah, and Tseng Tsai Yeo

The authors present the case of an isolated gonococcal paravertebral abscess with an epidural component in a 42-year-old man. A primary epidural abscess of the spine is a rare condition and is most commonly caused by Staphylococcus aureus. In this report, the authors present their therapeutic decisions and review the relevant literature on disseminated gonococcal infection in a patient presenting with an epidural abscess.

A 42-year-old Indonesian man was admitted with symptoms of neck and upper back pain and bilateral lower-limb weakness. Clinical examination was unremarkable apart from tenderness over the lower cervical spine. Postgadolinium T1-weighted MRI of the cervical and thoracic spine demonstrated an enhancing lesion in the right paraspinal and epidural soft tissue at C-6 to T1–2, in keeping with a spinal epidural abscess. The patient underwent laminectomy of C-7 and T-1 with abscess drainage. Tissue cultures subsequently grew Neisseria gonorrhoeae that was resistant to quinolones by genotyping. Upon further questioning, the patient admitted to unprotected sexual intercourse with commercial sex workers. Further investigations showed that he was negative for other sexually transmitted infections. Postoperatively, he received a course of beta-lactam antibiotics with good recovery. Clinicians should be aware of this unusual disseminated gonococcal infection manifested in any patient with the relevant risk factors.