External ventricular drain insertion accuracy: is there a need for change in practice?

Neurosurgery 65:1197–1201, 2009.DOI: 10.1227/01.NEU.0000356973.39913.0B

OBJECTIVE: Free-hand insertion of an external ventricular drain (EVD) is a common emergency neurosurgical procedure, mostly performed for critically ill patients. Although EVD complications have been studied thoroughly, the accuracy of EVD positioning has been audited only occasionally.

METHODS: Post-EVD insertion computed tomographic scans performed in our unit over a 2-year period were analyzed for EVD tip location and intracranial catheter length.

RESULTS: A total of 183 post-EVD insertion scans were reviewed. Of those, 73 EVD tips (39.9%) were in the ipsilateral frontal horn of the lateral ventricle (the desired tar- get); of those, 18 (25%) required EVD revision/reinsertion. Of the others, 35 (19.1%) were in the third ventricle, 33 (18%) in the body of the lateral ventricle, 19 (10.4%) in the sub- arachnoid space, 5 (2.7%) in the contralateral frontal horn, and 18 (9.8%) within the brain parenchyma. When the EVD tip was outside the desired target, 44 of the patients (40%) required EVD revision/reinsertion procedure (P = 0.0383).

CONCLUSION: Free-hand insertion of an EVD is an inaccurate procedure, and further studies are required to assess the accuracy and feasibility of the routine use of neuro- navigation, ultrasonography, or other guidance techniques and the possible implication of the decreasing revision rate, complications, and length of hospital stay.