A retrospective study was conducted on 1,719 hydrocephalic patients, treated between 1974 and 1983 at the Hospital for Sick Children (Toronto) and l'Hôpital des Enfants Malades (Paris), in order to better understand shunt failure. The statistical analysis demonstrates the following: (1) A probability of occurrence of shunt malfunction of 81% at 12 years of follow-up. (2) A high prevalence of shunt obstruction (56.1% of all malfunction) and fracture or disconnection of the tubings (13.6%). (3) A higher risk of proximal occlusion with flanged ventricular catheter. (4) Less malfunction with proximal-non-slit valves as compared to distal-slit valves. (5) The importance of pressure-flow characteristics of the shunt; because of an indirect relation between overdrainage and proximal occlusion. (6) A correlation between connectors and migration or fracture of the shunt. (7) Less distal obstructions when an open-ended distal-catheter was used. These complications were of some clinical, psychological and economical consequences. Their rate could be lowed.