Cerebrospinal fluid shunt survival and etiology of failures: a seven-year institutional experience.
BACKGROUND: Innovations in shunt technology and neuroendoscopy have been increasingly applied to shunt management. However, the relative life span of shunts and the etiology of shunt failure have not been characterized recently. METHODS: We reviewed the records of all shunting procedures at our institution between January 1992 and December 1998. Independent predictors of shunt failure were analyzed via multivariate Cox regression analysis in 836 shunting procedures. Independent predictors of the etiology of failure (infection, proximal obstruction, distal malfunction) were analyzed via multivariate logistic regression analysis in the 383 shunts which failed. RESULTS: A total of 353 pediatric patients underwent 308 shunt placements and 528 revisions. The risk (hazard ratio; HR) of shunt failure decreased as a function of time in both primary placements and revised shunts. In failed shunts, the odds of infection decreased 4-fold per year of shunt function, while the odds of distal malfunction increased 1.45-fold per year. Increasing number of shunt revisions (HR 1.31, p < 0.05), decreasing patient age in years (HR 1.04, p < 0.001), gestational age <40 weeks (HR 2.15, p < 0.001) but not the etiology of hydrocephalus were associated with an increased risk of shunt failure. Revisions versus primary placements, Dandy-Walker cysts and gestational age <40 weeks were independently associated with proximal, distal and infectious causes of failure, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: The long-term shunt revision rates observed here are similar to those reported over the past 2 decades. Shunt life span remains poorer in shunt revisions and in younger patients. Patient characteristics may suggest a specific risk and mechanism of failure, aiding in the long-term management of shunted hydrocephalus.
McGirt, MJ; Leveque, J-C; Wellons, JC; Villavicencio, AT; Hopkins, JS; Fuchs, HE; George, TM
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