Is the routine placement of a CSF reservoir following endoscopic third ventriculostomy justified?

British Journal of Neurosurgery,23:5,521-523. DOI: 10.1080/02688690902980849

Endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) is a well established treatment for selected cases of obstructive hydrocephalus. However, it does carry a significant rate of failure, which can be abrupt and life threatening. The present study analyses the benefits versus the risks of routine CSF reservoir insertion during ETV. Clinical data obtained from the medical records of patients from a single neurosurgical centre who underwent ETV between August 2002 and February 2007 were analysed retrospectively. A total of 34 records were available with follow-up ranging from 3–56 months (Median 26 months) and with patient age range between 6 months – 75 yrs (median 19 years). During this period, one neurosurgeon routinely placed reservoirs in all patients undergoing ETV (n1/434). In all instances of reservoir insertion, Ommaya reservoirs were used. The number of patients in which the reservoir was tapped for diagnostic and/or therapeutic reasons was quantified, and all complications resulting from reservoir placement recorded. ETV success was defined by a lack of subsequent need for cerebrospinal fluid diversion. In total 13 of 34 (38%) reservoirs inserted were tapped at a later date and there were no complications associated with their insertion. Tapping of reservoirs helped determine which patients required subsequent ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunting. In at least one case reservoir tapping was carried out as an emergency and was a crucial intermediate intervention prior to further surgery. The overall success rate of ETV was 65% (95% CI, 49–81%) with four complications associated with ETV: short-term memory loss, psychosis, and two cases of post-operative seizures. These complications were not attributed to CSF reservoir insertion but the ETV procedure itself. The routine placement of CSF reservoir following ETV thus seems justified with respect to the observed benefits and lack of complications associated with its placement.