CSF Shunt Infections in Pediatrics: A Seven-Year Experience

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The medical records of children who had had CSF shunt procedures were reviewed for the seven-year period from 1975 through 1981. There were 516 procedures performed in 297 patients. Only three were ventriculoatrial shunts; the remainder were ventriculoperitoneal shunts. Fifty-nine infectious episodes (11%) occurred in 50 patients (17%); there were three relapses and six reinfections. The infecting pathogen was staphylococci in 75% of the infections and gram-negative bacilli in 19%, and there were two or more pathogens in 15% of the infections. The onset of the infection was within 15 days of surgery in 53% of the cases. The main symptoms were fever, irritability, and shunt malfunction. Gram's stain of the CSF was positive in 46% of the episodes and blood cultures were positive in 29%. Nineteen percent of patients had wound infection and 7% had peritonitis; in most of these cases there were no neurologic signs or symptoms. Thirteen episodes were managed with antibiotic therapy alone; among these, there were three relapses and two reinfections. Thirty-seven episodes were treated with antibiotics and immediate removal of the shunt; there were no relapses and three reinfections. Nine episodes were managed with antibiotics and delayed removal of the shunt; there was one reinfection. The median duration of antibiotic treatment was 15 days, and the time to defervescence was 24 hours in those with immediate removal of the shunt and six days in those in whom the shunt was not removed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1103-1108
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Diseases of Children
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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