Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt Complications in the European Idiopathic Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus Multicenter Study

Oper Neurosurg (Hagerstown). 2019 Jul 1;17(1):97-102. doi: 10.1093/ons/opy232.


Background: Ventriculoperitoneal shunt (VP-shunt) is the standard of treatment for idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus (iNPH). However, a thorough investigation of VP-shunt complications in this population is lacking.

Objective: To present the analysis and the rates of complications progressively occurring during the first year after shunt surgery in the patients with iNPH included in the European multicenter (EU-iNPH) study.

Methods: Patients (n = 142) were prospectively included in the EU-iNPH study by 13 institutions. All patients received a programmable VP-shunt. One hundred fifteen patients completed the 12-mo follow-up. Reexaminations were performed 1, 3, and 12 mo after surgery. Data regarding symptomatic over- or underdrainage, infections, malposition, subdural collections, and shunt surgery were collected and analyzed.

Results: Thirty patients (26%) experienced symptoms due to shunt underdrainage. Symptomatic overdrainage was reported in 10 (9%). Shunt adjustments were made in 43 (37%). Shunt malposition was recognized as the primary cause of shunt malfunction in 8 (7%), while only 1 infection (0.9%) occurred. Subdural hematoma was diagnosed in 7 (6%) and was treated by increasing the opening pressure of the valve in 5 patients. Hygroma was diagnosed in 10 (9%), requiring surgery in 1 patient. Overall, 17 patients (15%) underwent 19 shunt surgeries.

Conclusion: The advances in valve technology, a careful opening pressure setting, and rigorous follow-up allow a significant reduction of complications, which can be usually managed nonsurgically within the first 3 to 6 mo.

Keywords: Complication; Idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus; Multicenter study; Symptoms and signs; Ventriculoperitoneal shunt.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Equipment Failure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocephalus, Normal Pressure / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt / adverse effects*