The aims of this study were to measure inpatient health care for pediatric hydrocephalus in the US; describe patient, hospital, and hospitalization characteristics for pediatric hydrocephalus inpatient care; and determine characteristics associated with death.
A cross-sectional study was performed using the 1997, 2000, and 2003 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Kids' Inpatient Databases (KID), nationally representative weighted data sets of hospital discharges for pediatric patients. A hydrocephalus-related hospitalization was classified as either cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) shunt–related (including initial placements, infections, malfunctions, or other) or non–CSF shunt–related. Patients > 18 years of age were excluded. The KID provided weighted estimates of 6.657, 6.597, and 6.732 million total discharges in the 3 study years.
Each year there were 38,200–39,900 admissions, 391,000–433,000 hospital days, and total hospital charges of $1.4–2.0 billion for pediatric hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus accounted for 0.6% of all pediatric hospital admissions in the US in 2003, but for 1.8% of all pediatric hospital days and 3.1% of all pediatric hospital charges. Over the study years, children admitted with hydrocephalus were older, had an increase in comorbidities, and were admitted more frequently to teaching hospitals. Compared with children who survived, those who died were more likely to be < 3 months of age and have a birth-related admission, have no insurance, have comorbidities, be transferred, and have a non–CSF shunt–related admission.
Children with hydrocephalus have a chronic illness and use a disproportionate share of hospital days and healthcare dollars in the US. Since 1997 they have increased in age and in number of comorbid conditions. For important changes in morbidity and mortality rates to be made, focused research efforts and funding are necessary.