Shunt-dependent hydrocephalus: Management style among members of the American society of pediatric neurosurgeons

Mark R. Kraemer, Carolina Sandoval-Garcia, Taryn Bragg, Bermans J. Iskandar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE The authors conducted a survey to evaluate differences in the understanding and management of shunt-dependent hydrocephalus among members of the American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons (ASPN). METHODS Surveys were sent to all 204 active ASPN members in September 2014. One hundred thirty responses were received, representing a 64% response rate. Respondents were asked 13 multiple-choice and free-response questions regarding 4 fundamental problems encountered in shunted-hydrocephalus management: shunt malfunction, chronic cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) overdrainage, chronic headaches, and slit ventricle syndrome (SVS). RESULTS Respondents agreed that shunt malfunction occurs most often as the result of ventricular catheter obstruction. Despite contrary evidence in the literature, most respondents (66%) also believed that choroid plexus is the tissue most often found in obstructed proximal catheters. However, free-text responses revealed that the respondents’ understanding of the underlying pathophysiology of shunt obstruction was highly variable and included growth, migration, or adherence of choroid plexus, CSF debris, catheter position, inflammatory processes, and CSF overdrainage. Most respondents considered chronic CSF overdrainage to be a rare complication of shunting in their practice and reported wide variation in treatment protocols. Moreover, despite a lack of evidence in the literature, most respondents attributed chronic headaches in shunt patients to medical reasons (for example, migraines, tension). Accordingly, most respondents managed headaches with reassurance and/or referral to pain clinics. Lastly, there were variable opinions on the etiology of slit ventricle syndrome (SVS), which included early shunting, chronic overdrainage, and/or loss of brain compliance. Beyond shunt revision, respondents reported divergent SVS treatment preferences. CONCLUSIONS The survey shows that there is wide variability in the understanding and management of shunt-dependent hydrocephalus and its complications. Such discrepancies appear to be derived partly from inconsistent familiarity with existing literature but especially from a paucity of high-quality publications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)216-224
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© AANS, 2017.


  • CSF overdrainage
  • Headache
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Shunt failure
  • Slit ventricle syndrome
  • Survey


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