The role of tunneling an external ventricular drain (EVD) more than the standard 5 cm for controlling device-related infections remains controversial.
This is a randomized, double-blind, 3-arm controlled trial done in the Children’s Medical Center in Tehran, Iran. Pediatric patients (< 18 years old) with temporary hydrocephalus requiring an EVD and no evidence of CSF infection or prior EVD insertion were enrolled. Patients were randomly assigned (1:1:1) into the following arms: 5-cm (standard; group A); 10-cm (group B); or 15-cm (group C) EVD tunnel lengths. The investigators, parents, and person performing the analysis were masked. The surgeon was informed of the length of the EVD by the monitoring board just before operation. Patients were followed until the EVD’s fate was established. Infection rate and other complications related to EVDs were assessed.
A total of 105 patients were enrolled in three random groups (group A = 36, group B = 35, and group C = 34). The EVD was removed because there was no further need in most cases (67.6%), followed by conversion to a new EVD or ventriculoperitoneal shunt (15.2%), infection (11.4%), and spontaneous discharge without further CSF diversion requirement (5.7%). No statistical difference was found in infection rate (p = 0.47) or EVD duration (p = 0.81) between the three groups. No group reached the efficacy point sooner than the standard group (group B: hazard ratio 1.21, 95% CI 0.75–1.94, p = 0.429; group C: hazard ratio 1.03, 95% CI 0.64–1.65, p = 0.91).
EVD tunnel lengths of 5 cm and longer did not show a difference in the infection rate in pediatric patients. Indeed, tunneling lengths of 5 cm and greater seem to be equally effective in preventing EVD infection.
Clinical trial registration no.: IRCT20160430027680N2 (IRCT.ir)