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Jpn J Infect Dis. 2004 Apr;57(2):44-8.

Infection of cerebrospinal fluid shunts: causative pathogens, clinical features, and outcomes.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital-Kaohsiung, Taiwan.


This retrospective chart review describes the clinical features, pathogens, and outcomes of 46 patients with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) shunt infections collected over 16 years. The overall CSF shunt infection rate was 2.1%, broken down into 1.7 and 9.3% in adult and pediatric groups, respectively. Fever and progressive consciousness disturbance were the most clinical features in the adult patient group, whereas disturbance of consciousness and abdominal symptoms and signs were the two most common clinical features in the pediatric patient group. The most frequently isolated microorganisms were of the Staphylococcus spp., including Staphylococcus aureus and coagulase negative Staphylococcus, which accounted for 47% of the episodes. Furthermore, increases in polymicrobial and Gram-negative bacilli infections were observed in our study. Due to the high proportion of oxacillin-resistant Staphylococcus spp. and polymicrobial infections, we recommend initial empirical antibiotics with both vancomycin and a third-generation cephalosporin for cases in which the causative bacteria has not been identified or for which the results of antimicrobial susceptibility tests are not available. For patients who develop smoldering fevers, progressive disturbed consciousness, seizures, or abdominal fullness after ventriculoperitoneal shunt procedures, CSF shunt infections should be suspected. Although some infections have been managed successfully with antimicrobial therapy alone, the timely use of appropriate antibiotics according to antimicrobial susceptibility testing and the removal of the shunt apparatus are essential for successful treatment.

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