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Neurocirugia (Astur). 2009 Feb;20(1):15-24.

[Ventricular haemorrhage in preterm neonates and posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus. Proposal of a management protocol based on early ventriculo-peritoneal shunt].

[Article in Spanish]

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Servicio de Neurocirugía. Hospital Regional Universitario Carlos Haya. Málaga, Spain.



About 50% of the preterm neonates with a ventricular haemorrhage will develop posthaemorrhagic hydrocephalus. Medical treatment is not effective neither safe, does not reduce shunt's dependence and therefore can not be recommended; early and repetitive ventricular or lumbar punctures and the use of intraventricular fibrynolitic treatment have showed no effect on reducing patient's disability, shunt's necessity or mortality of these patients and furthermore, they can have several and important side effects. The ventriculo-peritoneal shunt can be in many cases the only option for definitive treatment, despite well-known infective and obstructive complications and there is an ongoing debate about the ideal moment for the intervention.


To present a diagnostic and treatment protocol for post-haemorrhagic hydrocephalus of the preterm and describe our initial experience with its application on the Paediatric Neurosurgical Department at the Hospital Materno-Infantil Carlos Haya of Málaga.


A total of 21 patients with diagnosis of preterm post-haemorrhagic hydrocephalus were surgically treated at our hospital with ventriculoperitoneal shunt between January 2003 and September 2006 following the designed protocol. All the cases were Papile's grade III or IV with severe ventricular dilation (Thalamus-Caudate index over 1.5 cm) and subacute or chronic presentation. We used medium pressure valves and antibiotic impregnated catheters. We considered 1500 g as the minimum weight permitted for the intervention. We report the early and late postoperative complications and the patients functional state at the ambulatory follow up classifying them in 4 grades (Excellent or Grade 1; Good or Grade 2; Regular or Grade 3; Poor or Grade 4) according to the presence of neurological focal signs, relation with the surrounding environment, response to stimuli and presence of seizures.


The most frequent complications were escaphocephalic cranium in 5 patients, persistent subgaleal collections in 2 patients, symptomatic slit ventricles in 2 patients and surgical wound dehiscence with shunt infection in 1 patient. One patient presented a systemic fungical infection with non-diagnosed meningeal compromise previous to the shunt. 7 patients required shunt replacement (14 procedures); in 2 cases of tabicated hydrocephalus an endoscopical septostomy (associated with an ETV that did not function) was done, and in a third case ETV and shunt removal was performed after shunt malfunction, with delayed failure of ETV. For the functional results 9 patients were classified as Grade 1, 5 patients as Grade 2, 3 patients as Grade 3 and 4 patients as Grade 4. This means a 67% of good or excellent results.


We propose a diagnostic and treatment protocol for preterm neonates with haemorrhagic hydrocephalus that we have been using since 2003 at our department. In our experience it is possible to shunt patients starting at 1500 g with low morbidity. The use of protocols can help in reducing complications and improving functional results in these patients.

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