A Multicenter Multinational Registry for Assessing Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt Infections for Hydrocephalus

Neurosurgery 67:1303–1310, 2010 DOI: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e3181f07e76

Reported infection rates after ventriculoperitoneal shunt surgery vary from 1 to 25%. Antibiotic-impregnated (AI) catheters may reduce shunt infection rates, but this is uncertain.

OBJECTIVE: To establish a prospective shunt registry to evaluate short-term (3-month) infection rates associated with ventriculoperitoneal shunts and standard or AI catheters during surgical treatment of hydrocephalus.

METHODS: A prospective, multicenter, noncontrolled, open-label registry investigated patients with de novo catheter implantation or catheter replacement of an existing ventriculoperitoneal shunt. The primary outcome was shunt infection.

RESULTS: A total of 440 patients were entered into the registry at 10 sites: 3 in North America, 2 in Singapore, 4 in China and 1 in India. Seven patients were excluded. Of the 433 remaining patients, 314 had new shunts and 119 were revisions. Shunt infections occurred in 14 of 433 patients (3.2%) overall and in 2 of 37 infants (5.2%) younger than 1 year. AI catheters were used in 46 of 433 patients at 7 centers. The shunt infection rate was 0 of 46 for shunts with AI catheters and 14 of 387 (3.6%) without AI catheters. Infection rates were similar with AI catheters, adjusting for age and catheter type.

CONCLUSION: The overall shunt infection rate was lower than in previous multicentered studies. The low infection rate and low rate of AI catheter use precludes any meaningful statement regarding the value of AI catheters in reducing the infection rate. Consideration should be given to performing a well designed, adequately powered, prospective randomized controlled trial to determine whether AI catheters reduce shunt infection rates.

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