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J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2010 Oct;6(4):329-35. doi: 10.3171/2010.7.PEDS09543.

Outcomes of ventriculoperitoneal shunt insertion in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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BethanyKids at Kijabe Hospital, Kijabe, Kenya.



Ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunts in Sub-Saharan Africa are traditionally associated with high complication rates and poor outcomes. The aim of this study was to review one large institutional experience with VP shunts, to evaluate the feasibility of shunt insertion procedures with acceptable long-term outcomes in Africa, and to identify factors correlated with good and/or poor outcomes.


A retrospective study was conducted by reviewing the charts of all children who underwent primary (93%) or subsequent VP shunt insertions at the Kijabe Hospital between November 2004 and March 2007. Epidemiological data, clinical investigations, etiology of the hydrocephalus, details of the VP shunt insertion, outcome at follow-up, and morbidity and mortality data were collected. Outcomes were graded as good, fair, or poor, according to visual, motor, and seizure criteria.


The authors analyzed 593 VP shunt insertions in 574 patients. The sex distribution was 53% male and 47% female. The mean age at shunt insertion was 8.5 months (range 0–309 months). The commonest etiologies for hydrocephalus were spina bifida (43.4%) and postinfectious (27.7%). Follow-up was available in 76% of children, with a mean follow-up period of 8.9 months (range 2–30.5 months). The median patient age was 3.3 months. The overall shunt function rate at 2 years was 65%, and the complication rate per procedure was 20%, with infection encountered in 9.1% and shunt malfunction in 11%. Complications were significantly related to hydrocephalus etiology and to sex (p = 0.03 and p = 0.01, respectively). Overall outcomes were good in 40.2% and poor in 59.8%. Overall mortality in the group was 7.1%. Younger patients who survived had an overall good outcome (p = 0.0001). Only 10% of patients with a head circumference greater than 60 cm had a good outcome.


Despite limited resources, VP shunt procedures can be carried out in Sub-Saharan Africa with acceptable complication rates and fair long-term outcomes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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