Shunt implantation: reducing the incidence of shunt infection

J Neurosurg. 1992 Dec;77(6):875-80. doi: 10.3171/jns.1992.77.6.0875.


Shunt infection remains the foremost problem of shunt implantation after mechanical malfunctions. Diversionary cerebrospinal fluid shunt implantation has a high complication rate, with 5% to 15% of such shunts becoming infected. Of these infections, 70% are diagnosed within 1 month after surgery and more than 90% within 6 months. Shunt infection in the vast majority of cases is therefore a complication of shunt surgery. The authors review their experience with shunt implantation during two time periods. From January, 1978, to December, 1982, 302 children with hydrocephalus underwent 606 operations. Among these children, 47 (15.56%) developed a proven shunt infection, with an incidence of infection per procedure of 7.75%. As a result of this study, a new protocol for shunt procedures involving modifications in the immediate pre-, intra-, and postoperative management of children undergoing shunt implantation was initiated. With this new protocol, 600 children underwent a total of 1197 procedures between January, 1983, and December, 1990. The incidence of shunt infection decreased dramatically, with two infections (0.33%) in 600 patients and a per-procedure rate of 0.17%. The overall annual risk of a shunt infection in the pediatric neurosurgical unit is currently 1.04%.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Infections / diagnosis
  • Bacterial Infections / etiology
  • Bacterial Infections / prevention & control
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid / microbiology
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Shunts / adverse effects*
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocephalus / surgery*
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intraoperative Period
  • Male
  • Peritoneum
  • Postoperative Care
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reoperation
  • Staphylococcal Infections / diagnosis
  • Staphylococcal Infections / etiology
  • Staphylococcal Infections / prevention & control
  • Surgical Wound Infection / diagnosis
  • Surgical Wound Infection / etiology
  • Surgical Wound Infection / prevention & control*