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Surg Neurol Int. 2016 Dec 20;7:105. doi: 10.4103/2152-7806.196236. eCollection 2016.

An algorithmic approach to the management of unrecognized hydrocephalus in pediatric candidates for intrathecal baclofen pump implantation.

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Department of Neurological Surgery, Harborview Medical Center, UW Medicine, Seattle, Washington, USA.
Department of Neurosurgery, Dell Children's Medical Center, Austin, Texas, USA.
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Seattle Children's Hospital, Seattle, Washington, USA.
Department of Neurosurgery, Seattle Children's Hospital, Seattle, Washington, USA.



Complications of intrathecal baclofen (ITB) pump implantation for treatment of pediatric patients with spasticity and dystonia associated with cerebral palsy remain unacceptably high. To address the concern that some patients may have underlying arrested hydrocephalus, which is difficult to detect clinically because of a low baseline level of neurological function, and may contribute to the high rates of postoperative cerebrospinal fluid leak, wound breakdown, and infection associated with ITB pump implantation, the authors implemented a standardized protocol including mandatory cranial imaging and assessment of intracranial pressure (ICP) by lumbar puncture prior to ITB pump implantation.


A retrospective case series of patients considered for ITB pump implantation between September 2012 and October 2014 at Seattle Children's Hospital is presented. All patients underwent lumbar puncture under general anesthesia prior to ITB pump implantation and, if the opening pressure was greater than 21 cmH2O, ITB pump implantation was aborted and alternative management options were presented to the patient's family.


Eighteen patients were treated during the study time period. Eight patients (44.4%) who had ICPs in excess of 21 cmH2O on initial LP were identified. Eleven patients (61.1%) ultimately underwent ITB pump implantation (9/10 in the "normal ICP" group and 2/8 in the "elevated ICP" group following ventriculoperitoneal shunt placement), without any postoperative complications.


Given the potentially high rate of elevated ICP and arrested hydrocephalus, the authors advocate pre-implantation assessment of ICP under controlled conditions and a thoughtful consideration of the neurosurgical management options for patients with elevated ICP.


Arrested hydrocephalus; CSF leak; cerebral palsy; hydrocephalus; intrathecal baclofen pump; spasticity

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