Relative risks of ventriculostomy infection and morbidity.
Ventricular catheter placement is a common procedure for the management of increased intracranial pressure. Hypotheses regarding the etiology of infection of catheters center on two alternative assumptions: 1) contamination leading to infection occurs at the time of catheter insertion, implying that catheter duration has minimal effect on infection risk; and 2) infection of catheters derives from catheter contamination after insertion, suggesting that duration of catheter use may significantly affect infection risk. We have studied the relative complication rate of ventricular catheter insertions using a retrospective approach (n = 161 patients and 253 catheter insertion procedures). The overall infection rate was 4.1%, but the daily infection hazard increased exponentially with time, to a maximum daily rate of 10.3% by day 6 of catheter insertion. This increasing risk appears most consistent with the second hypothesis. The risk of non-infectious complications was 5.6%, including hemorrhagic occurrences and misplacement severe enough to require a new catheter insertion. The daily hazard of infection approximately equalled the non-infectious risk of routine catheter replacement by day 5. Additional prospective data on the daily risk of CSF infection and the appropriateness of antibiotic prophylaxis either at the time of ventricular catheter insertion or continued through the catheter's presence may be required to both definitively identify which hypothesis of infection risk is correct and whether antibiotics can significantly ameliorate this risk.
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