Prolonged external ventricular drainage with percutaneous long-tunnel ventriculostomies

J Neurosurg. 1995 Nov;83(5):791-4. doi: 10.3171/jns.1995.83.5.0791.


External ventricular drainage has been used extensively for management of several neurosurgical disorders. The main limitation of this procedure has been the high risk of infection, especially with prolonged drainage. In an effort to minimize the risk of infection, the authors have used a new ventriculostomy technique that involves tunneling the ventricular catheter subcutaneously to an exit site in the lower chest or upper abdomen. This report describes the results of this procedure on 100 consecutive cases. Patients requiring emergency ventriculostomies had short-tunnel ventriculostomies placed at the bedside that were converted to long-tunnel ventriculostomies in the operating room within 5 days. The average duration of drainage was 18.3 days (range 5-40 days). Cerebrospinal fluid was routinely sent for Gram staining and culture to monitor for infection. Prophylactic antibiotic medications were administered only perioperatively. No infection was observed during the first 16 days of drainage in any patient. The overall incidence of infection was 4% and blockage occurred in 6% of the cases. In this series the incidence of ventricular infection was 2.37 per 1000 ventricular drainage days, one of the lowest reported incidences of infection in the literature. This procedure provides a simple and effective method of maintaining long-term ventricular drainage with a very low risk of infection or blockage.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bacterial Infections / prevention & control
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / surgery
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drainage / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocephalus / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage / surgery
  • Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt*
  • Ventriculostomy / methods*