Failure of Internal Cerebrospinal Fluid Shunt: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Overall Prevalence in Adults

World Neurosurg. (2023) 169:20-30

Reported rates of failures of internal cerebrospinal fluid shunt (ICSFS) vary greatly from less than 5% to more than 50% and no meta-analysis to assess the overall prevalence has been performed. We estimated the failure rate after ICSFS insertion and searched for associated factors.

METHODS: Six databases were searched from January 1990 to February 2022. Only original articles reporting the rate of adult shunt failure were included. Random-effects meta-analysis with a generalized linear mixed model method and logit transformation was used to compute the overall failure prevalence. Subgroup analysis and meta-regression were implemented to search for associated factors.

RESULTS: Of 1763 identified articles, 46 were selected, comprising 70,859 ICSFS implantations and 13,603 shunt failures, suggesting an accumulated incidence of 19.2%. However, the calculated pooled prevalence value and its 95% confidence interval (CI) were 22.7% (95% CI, 19.8e5.8). The CI of the different estimates did not overlap, indicating a strong heterogeneity confirmed by a high I 2 of 97.5% (95% CI, 97.1e97.8; P < 0.001; s 2 [ 0.3). Ninety-five percent prediction interval of shunt failure prevalence ranged from 8.75% to 47.36%. A meta-regression of prevalence of publication found a barely significant decreasing failure rate of about 2% per year (e2.11; 95% CI, e4.02 to e0.2; P [ 0.031).

CONCLUSIONS: Despite being a simple neurosurgical procedure, ICSFS insertion has one of the highest risk of complications, with failure prevalence involving more than 1 patient of 5. Nonetheless, all efforts to lower this high level of shunt failure seem to be effective.