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Management of Adult Hydrocephalus With Ventriculoperitoneal Shunts: Long-Term Single-Institution Experience

Background: Ventriculoperitoneal shunting is the most widely used neurosurgical procedure for the management of hydrocephalus.

Objective: To evaluate our long-term single-institution experience in the management of adult hydrocephalus patients with ventriculoperitoneal shunts.

Methods: Adult patients who underwent ventriculoperitoneal shunt placement for hydrocephalus from October 1990 to October 2009 were included. Medical charts, operative reports, imaging studies, and clinical follow-up evaluations were reviewed and analyzed retrospectively for clinical outcome in adult hydrocephalus patients.

Results: A total of 683 adult patients were included in the study. The most common etiologies of hydrocephalus include idiopathic (29%), tumors and cysts (20%), postcraniotomy (13%), and subarachnoid hemorrhage (13%). The overall shunt failure rate was 32%, and the majority (74%) of shunt revisions occurred within the first 6 months. The median time to first shunt revision was 9.31 months. Etiology of hydrocephalus showed a significant impact on the incidence of shunt revision/failure and on the median time to shunt revision. Similarly, the type of hydrocephalus had a significant effect on the incidence of shunt failure and the median time to shunt revision.

Conclusion: A large proportion of patients (32%) experience shunt failure after shunt placement for hydrocephalus. Although the overall incidence of shunt revision was comparable to previously reported studies, the fact that a large proportion of adult populations with shunt placement experience shunt failure is a concern.