Experience with ventriculo-pleural shunts

Childs Brain. 1983;10(6):404-13. doi: 10.1159/000120142.


Ventriculo-pleural shunting for the management of hydrocephalus was initially introduced by Ransohoff in 1954. However, because of the reported cases of pleural effusion with this procedure, the operation has not achieved popularity in the management of hydrocephalus. In the course of a review of 1,500 patients with hydrocephalus treated at the Hospital for Sick Children over the years 1960-1981, we encountered 59 patients who had been treated with a ventriculo-pleural shunt during the years 1971-1981. The commonest reason for insertion of the ventriculo-pleural shunt was a preexisting infected ventriculo-peritoneal shunt. 12 of the 59 patients developed pleural effusions, and 6 of these 12 patients were under 11 months of age. The incorporation of an antisiphon device in the shunting system seemed to decrease the possibility of a pleural effusion. 23 of the 59 patients continue to function on their inserted ventriculo-pleural shunt, and in 9 of these the shunts have been functioning for over 5 years. Ventriculo-pleural shunting seems to be a safe and simple form of diversionary CSF bypass. The risk of pleural effusion seems to be highest in the infant, but can occur at any age. However, even in the infant the ventriculo-pleural shunt provides a good temporary site for diversion of CSF when the peritoneal cavity is contaminated or hazardous to shunt function. Ventriculo-pleural shunting provides a valuable alternative for the management of hydrocephalus in those patients where the heart or the peritoneal cavity are unsuitable sites.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Shunts* / adverse effects
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Hydrocephalus / surgery*
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infections
  • Peritoneal Cavity
  • Pleura
  • Pleural Effusion / etiology
  • Postoperative Complications / surgery
  • Reoperation