The role of lumboperitoneal shunts in managing chronic hydrocephalus with slit ventricles


Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics, Ahead of Print.
OBJECTIVELumboperitoneal (LP) shunts have a role not only in pseudotumor cerebri, but also in patients with slit-like ventricles who are treated with CSF shunting on a chronic basis. Hesitation to utilize LP shunts is based on previous conventional beliefs including the tendency for overdrainage, difficulties accessing the shunt to tap or revise, and risk of progressive cerebellar tonsillar herniation. The authors hypothesized that the use of horizontal-vertical (HV) valves may reduce the risk of these complications, particularly overdrainage and development of Chiari malformation.METHODSAll pediatric cases involving patients treated with an LP shunt at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan were reviewed in this retrospective case series. A total of 143 patients with hydrocephalus were treated with LP shunts from 1997–2015 (follow-up range 8 months–8 years, median 4.2 years). Patients with pseudotumor cerebri underwent placement of an LP shunt as a primary procedure. In patients with slit ventricles from chronically treated hydrocephalus or repeated shunt malfunctions from proximal catheter obstruction, a lumbar drain was inserted to assess candidacy for conversion to an LP shunt. In patients who tolerated the lumbar drain and demonstrated communication of the ventricles with the spinal cisterns, treatment was converted to an LP shunt. All patients included in the series had undergone initial shunt placement between birth and age 16 years.RESULTSIn 30% of patients (n = 43), LP shunts were placed as the initial shunt treatment; in 70% (n = 100), treatment was converted to LP shunts from ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunts. The patients’ age at insertion of or conversion to an LP shunt ranged from 1 to 43 years (median 8.5 years). Of the patients with clear pre-LP and post-LP shunt follow-up imaging, none were found to develop an acquired Chiari malformation. In patients with pre-existing tonsillar ectopia, no progression was noted on follow-up MRIs of the brain in these patients after LP shunt insertion. In our LP shunt case series, no patient presented with acute deterioration from shunt malfunction.CONCLUSIONSConversion to an LP shunt may minimize acute deterioration from shunt malfunction and decrease morbidity of repeated procedures in patients with chronically shunt-treated hydrocephalus and small ventricles. In comparison to previously published case series of LP shunt treatment, the use of LP shunts in conjunction with HV valves may decrease the overall risk of cerebellar tonsillar herniation. The use of an LP shunt may be an alternative in the management of slit ventricles when VP shunting repeatedly fails.

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