The long-term outlook for hydrocephalus in childhood. A ten-year cohort study of 155 patients

Pediatr Neurosurg. 1997 Aug;27(2):63-70. doi: 10.1159/000121229.


Despite the fact that ventriculoperitoneal shunt insertion is the most commonly performed surgical operation in the pediatric neurosurgeon's repertoire, there is a surprising paucity of long-term outcome studies for these patients detailing either the complication rate over a predetermined time period or more importantly their intellectual outcome. The aims of this study, therefore, were to determine the 10-year outcome in a cohort of 155 children with shunted hydrocephalus, both in terms of the number and time sequence of shunt complications and also the long-term academic (schooling) outcome of these individuals. This was a cohort study of 155 hydrocephalic children who underwent first-time ventriculoperitoneal shunt insertion between the years 1978 and 1983, who were then followed up on an annual outpatient basis for a period of 10 years or until death. Their academic records and the surgical morbidity and mortality encountered over the 10-year study period were used as the main outcome measures. For those children surviving until schoolage, 59% were able to attend a normal school. The academic outlook for those children with hydrocephalus secondary to infection (postmeningitic) or intraventricular hemorrhage was less favorable with 52 and 60% requiring special schooling compared to those children with congenital hydrocephalus (29%; p = 0.036). 44% (68/155) of patients in this cohort did not require a shunt revision. The commonest reasons for shunt revision were blockage (49%) and infection (19%) which predominantly occurred within the first year of their original shunt procedure. Overall the infection rate was 12% (44/380 procedures). Furthermore an increased incidence of shunt infection was noted in those under 6 months old (p = 0.040). There was an 11 % mortality during the 10-year follow-up period for those with nontumor-related hydrocephalus.

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Education, Special
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocephalus / complications
  • Hydrocephalus / mortality
  • Hydrocephalus / rehabilitation
  • Hydrocephalus / surgery*
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt* / adverse effects