Ventriculosubgaleal shunts for posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus in premature infants

Brian K. Willis, Cherukuri Ravi Kumar, Esther L. Wylen, Anil Nanda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Objective: The early management of posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus in premature infants is challenging and controversial. These infants need a temporary cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) diversion procedure until they gain adequate weight, and the blood and protein levels in CSF are reasonably low before permanent shunt can be placed. Various options are available with their associated advantages and disadvantages. Ventriculosubgaleal shunts have been recommended as a more physiologic and less invasive means of achieving this goal. We have performed this procedure in 6 premature infants to evaluate their effectiveness and complications. Methods: Six consecutive premature infants with posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus underwent placement of ventriculosubgaleal shunts over a 1-year period of time. We reviewed their clinical and imaging progress to assess the ability of the shunt to control hydrocephalus and the complication rates. Results: In all 6 patients, the ventriculosubgaleal shunt controlled the progression of hydrocephalus as assessed by clinical and imaging parameters. A permanent shunt was avoided in 1 patient (16.6%). However, 4 patients developed shunt infections, 1 involving the ventriculosubgaleal shunt itself, and 3 immediately after conversion to ventriculoperitoneal shunt. The total infection rate of the series was 66.6%. All infections were caused by staphylococcus species. There was only a 1% shunt infection rate in our institution for all nonventriculosubgaleal shunts during the same period of time. Conclusion: Placement of ventriculosubgaleal shunts for interim CSF diversion in neonates with posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus is effective as a temporary method of CSF diversion. However, our experience has shown that it is associated with a unacceptably high CSF infection rate. A potential cause for infection is CSF stasis just beneath the extremely thin skin of the premature infants, promoting colonization by skin flora. CSF sampling before conversion to a permanent shunt and replacement of the proximal hardware, which has been in situ for a prolonged period, may decrease the infection rates. At present, the procedure is no longer performed at our institution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)178-185
Number of pages8
JournalPediatric Neurosurgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2005
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


  • Hydrocephalus
  • Infection
  • Subgaleal shunts
  • Ventricle


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