Complications in Patients Undergoing Microsurgical Clipping of Intracranial Aneurysms with Pre-existing Ventriculoperitoneal Shunts Following a Cranial Procedure

J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. 2019 Mar;28(3):845-849. doi: 10.1016/j.jstrokecerebrovasdis.2018.11.034. Epub 2018 Dec 20.


Introduction: Patients with ventriculoperitoneal/pleural (VP) shunts occasionally must undergo subsequent craniotomy, craniectomy, or cranioplasty. Due to changes in pressure dynamics following shunt placement, we hypothesized that such patients may have an increased risk of developing symptomatic collections of extra-axial blood, fluid, and/or air postoperatively, leading to longer stays and worse outcomes compared to those undergoing cranial operations without a VP shunt.

Methods: From a retrospective cohort of patients who underwent cranial operations for management of cerebral aneurysms in 2005-2014, we identified patients who previously had a VP shunt placed, determined the temporal relationship between shunt placement and cranial operation, and investigated outcomes in those with and without a shunt.

Results: Of 818 patients who underwent cranial operations, 28 (3.4%) had a VP shunt. Four of these 28 (14.3%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 4.0%-32.7%) developed postoperative complications, compared to 42 of 790 (5.3%, 95% CI 4.0%-7.1%) without a history of VP shunt (P = .07). In addition, patients with a shunt were more likely to have longer cranial procedures (P = .04), longer hospital stays (P = .05), and more computed tomography scans during their craniotomy-associated admission (P = .002). Multivariate analysis, though not significant, demonstrated that the presence of a shunt contributed to the development of complications (odds ratio [OR] 2.24, 95% CI .70-7.13, P = .17). Length of surgery (OR 1.17, 95% CI 1.04-1.31, P = .01) and length of stay (OR 1.04, 95% CI 1.01-1.07, P = .01) were significantly longer in those with a postoperative complication.

Conclusion: We found a nonsignificant trend toward increased postoperative complications in patients with a VP shunt who underwent a subsequent cranial operation.

Keywords: Ventriculoperitoneal shunt; cerebrospinal fluid; complication; craniotomy; shunt.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / diagnostic imaging
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / physiopathology
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / surgery*
  • Length of Stay
  • Ligation
  • Male
  • Microsurgery / adverse effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnostic imaging
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology*
  • Postoperative Complications / physiopathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt / adverse effects*